Sat, 25 Feb 2017-07:50am , DNA
The letter recommends a comprehensive safety policy for both early childhood care (daycares, crèches) and early childhood education (playschools, preschools, balwadis, kindergartens).
The rising incidents of child sexual abuse in the country have prompted the Early Childhood Association (India) (ECA) to demand one law for one nation. The ECA wrote a letter to the government a few days back to involve stakeholders while framing one policy on the safety of children in the age group of 0 to 6 years, rather then making different laws for crèches or school bus safety etc.
The letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, State Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister for Women and Child Development Menaka Gandhi has appealed the team deciding the safety policy for Maharashtra and other states to involve key stakeholders like ECA, branded day care and preschool owners who have been successful in running quality centers till date and parents. According to ECA, until these stakeholders are not involved, government will not have a workable policy that safeguards children keeping the ground reality in mind.
The letter recommends a comprehensive safety policy for both early childhood care (daycares, crèches) and early childhood education (playschools, preschools, balwadis, kindergartens). This policy should cover all safety aspects be it school buses, center safety, childcare safety and safety during field trips as these children are also taken on short field trips.
The letter also asks that there should be detailed guidelines on how to implement the policy. For example, just stating that centers should have CCTV cameras is not going to help. As seen in the Kharghar case, there was a CCTV camera but no one was monitoring it.
There is also a need to define a training program/course for early childhood education and care.Presently there is no defined course and they lack latest global research and topics like risk assessment, fire drills and child proofing centers etc.
It also requests to bring in associations like ECA to help audit centers regularly.
Swati Popat Vats, President of ECA, said, “With multiple policies in multiple areas and states which are limited to only ‘outlining rules’, it will end up deterring the committed and passionate early childhood educator from setting up quality centers which in turn leads to more ‘profiteering minded’ people coming into this sector who will bribe their way through all these so called new laws and policies and end up giving low quality education and care to the children. We humbly and strongly urge the government to look into 3 key areas like, first is One nation- One Policy- be it for starting preschools or curriculum or safety etc. there should be one common policy with defined non-negotiable for every state to follow. States can then add relevant cultural or area specific points. Second key area is before defining laws or policies, involve associations like ECA, parents and center owners as we know the ground reality of how and what needs to and can be implemented. Third key area is define the developmentally appropriate curriculum and assessment for all ages in the early years centers, so that a child in Delhi or Chennai is not being exposed to different learning expectations that are not in line with their age or stage of development.”