Preschools in Kerala likely to have a uniform curriculum

Experts say a common preschool curriculum is not something that can be implemented on people’s opinion, it needs a political decision

September 30, 2022 12:21 am | Updated 10:07 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Image used for representational purposes only.

Image used for representational purposes only. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

As the State government embarks on public discussions as part of school curriculum revision, there remain concerns about the lack of a uniform curriculum for preschools and how effectively such a curriculum can be implemented. Minister for General Education V. Sivankutty on Thursday said the government intended to create a uniform curriculum framework for pre-primary education.

Those involved with preschool education say parents’ insistence on children learning to write during preschool itself is worrying. Preschool education, they say, does not mean learning to read and write alone; it has many other components essential for children’s mental, physical, social, and mental development, especially in the crucial period before six years of age.

Even if a curriculum that focusses on play, song dance, acting, drawing, sports, and so on is developed, the social mindset is to get children to begin reading and writing as early as possible to tick the achievement checkbox. Rather than taking a child-centric view with focus on their nature, interests, and aptitude, the start of education is reduced to mere writing by over-anxious parents. The only way out is to create awareness among parents against this unscientific practice, they say.

Another challenge is the lack of a uniform curriculum. In the State, a few pre-primary schools function under the Local Self-government department. Then, there are 33,115 anganwadis under the Women and Child Development Department. Fifty-three government model pre-primary schools function under the Education department. There are also 80-odd pre-schools under the Scheduled Castes Development Department and 30-odd ones under the Scheduled Tribes Development department, not to mention recognised preschools that are attached to government schools, those in government and aided schools for which honorariums are not paid by the government, and those in the private unaided sector.

However, there is no uniform textbook that is followed by them all, though there is some degree of uniformity in anganwadis as all 33,115 of them follow the same textbook. That is not the case with preschools under other agencies, it is pointed out.

Framing a preschool curriculum is the responsibility of the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), and it should be done in the State too, they say. All government agencies should also adopt the textbooks prepared by the SCERT.

A common pre-school curriculum, though, is not something that can be implemented solely on people’s opinion. What is needed is a political decision, they point out. A policy and rules that stress care, protection, nutrition, and play of children should be framed in the State, they say.

The draft preschool guidelines prepared by the SCERT also call for guidelines for play school, day care centres, creches, and so on for children below the age of three. Modules for training teachers and helpers and guidelines for teacher training institutions are also recommended.

The guidelines also underline the need for regulatory mechanisms as there is a wide gap in the functioning and facilities of preschools run by different agencies.

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