Skip to main content

Gujarat's pre-primary institutions free to run without safety, quality standards, sans official control: RTI reply

By Our Representative
Neither Gujarat government’s education department, nor women and child department, has any information about private pre-primary schools operating in the state. In separate replies to a right to information (RTI) plea by Mujahid Nafees, they have said, pre-primary schools do not come under their purview, hence the question of providing information on them “does not arise.”
A senior activist, Nafees received similar a reply from officials in Ahmedabad city when he sought to know, through his RTI application dated December 5, 2016, about the number of pre-primary schools, their name and address, number of children enrolled in there, status of their recognition as of 2016, a list of officials who monitor them, and so on.
Pointing out that he had sought information because a large number of pre-primary schools have mushroomed all around in Ahmedabad, with few of them charging hefty fees up to Rs 40,000 per year, Nafees said, the replies suggest none of them are obliged to comply by “any safety or quality standards.”
“The state government does not think it necessary to monitor them. Toddlers in the age group 3 to 6, going to these schools, are indeed open to risk”, Nafees said, adding, “Apparently, the government does not seem to think they fall under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009."
Ironically, Section 11 of the RTE Act says, “With a view to prepare children above the age of three years for elementary education and to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years, the appropriate Government shall make necessary arrangement for providing free pre-school education for such children.”
While the Government of India came up with a National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy in 2013 (download HERE), according to Nafees, who has been actively advocating policy changes in the field of education, says, “Neither Gujarat, nor any other state, has implemented it.”
Referring to such schools, the policy seeks “protection” of 3 to 6 year-old children “from hazards”, even as enforcing basic standards “across public, private and non-governmental service providers”. It insists, the government should have a well-oiled system at “regional, state, district and sub-district levels” to monitor pre-school education.
Enumerating basic requirements, the policy says, each classroom should be “measuring at least 35 square meters for a group of 30 children”, apart from adequate, at least 30 square meters, of “outdoor space”. The adult/caregiver-child ratio should be 1:20 for 3-6 year-old children, and 1:10 for below the age of 3, it adds.
It talks of “age- and developmentally-appropriate child centric curriculum” in “mother tongue/local vernacular” and “toys and learning materials”, a safe building “which is within easy approach” and is surrounded by “green area”, and “adequate and safe drinking water facilities”.
It further talks of separate boys’ and girls’ “child-friendly toilets and hand wash facilities”, separate space for “cooking nutritionally-balanced meals and nap time”, first aid facilities, and so on.
In a separate RTI query, Nafees said, he has been told that even in 52,000-odd anganwadis (pre-school) centres run by the Gujarat government, mainly in the rural areas, 11,000, as of September 2016, did not basic toilet facilities.
In yet another RTI plea of 2014, he said, he received a reply from the state government that 1,961 anganwadis were running without any anganwadi workers, 3,096 did not have any helpers, and 15,695 (33%) did have water facility.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".