Mumbai: In a proactive move to bring order to the diverse landscape of unregulated private pre-schools and kindergartens across Maharashtra, the State's Education Department has swung into action. A dedicated committee has been assembled with the objective of crafting a comprehensive policy that aligns with the National Education Policy 2020, aimed at effectively monitoring and overseeing these educational institutions.
Commissioner of Education Suraj Mandhare stated, "Our goal is to encompass all these playgroups, kindergartens, or any other names they might operate under, within a single legislative framework." Mandhare underlined that while surveillance and regulation are essential, the aim is not to hinder the autonomy of these establishments. The overarching objective is to create a policy that harmonizes regulation with flexibility, recognizing the unique requirements of early childhood education.
At the helm of this committee, Commissioner Mandhare disclosed that multiple meetings have already transpired, harnessing the expertise of the State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT) and specialists in child pedagogy. The envisaged timeline for unveiling the policy is within the next one to two months, with the intent of providing a comprehensive roadmap for preschools and kindergartens.
The National Education Policy 2020 introduced the concept of early childhood care and education (ECCE) as a foundational component of education, encompassing children aged three to eight. This transformation aims to standardize the curriculum and teaching methodologies for this age group, ensuring a consistent and developmentally appropriate learning experience.
In the past, privately-run pre-primary schools, kindergartens, playschools, and nurseries have adopted disparate curricula and teaching approaches, often tailored by the institutions themselves. This variability has raised concerns about educational quality and the premature introduction of academic subjects such as reading and writing, which goes against recommended pedagogical practices.
Experts associated with the Center for Learning Resources (CLR), a non-profit organization based in Pune with nearly four decades of experience in education, have highlighted the incongruity between prevailing early education methods and endorsed developmental stages. They emphasize the importance of prioritizing experiential play-based learning, conceptual understanding, and language skills, in alignment with the principles outlined in the NEP.
The forthcoming policy aims to address these concerns by refraining from imposing undue reading and writing expectations on young children. Instead, it will underscore age-appropriate learning experiences and evaluation techniques that align with the developmental milestones outlined in the NEP.
This endeavour underscores the Maharashtra Education Department's commitment to adhering to the NEP's vision and ensuring that young learners receive a well-rounded and developmentally apt education that serves as a robust foundation for their future educational pursuits. The forthcoming policy is projected to strike a balance between necessary oversight and the cultivation of a nurturing educational milieu for young learners across the state.
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