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

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Skewed sex ratio 'behind' ban on rural Thakor girls' mobile use, inter-caste marriage

By Jharna Pathak*
On July 14, 2019, the Thakor community of 12 villages of Banaskantha district in Gujarat announced a ban on the use of mobile phones by unmarried women. Simultaneously, they imposed penalties on inter-caste marriages. The family of any girl of the community marrying without the consent of her parents would now be fined Rs 1.5 lakh while that of a boy marrying a girl from other community without his family’s consent would be penalised with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”

Modi's Kashmir move meant to 'solidify' Hindu majoritarianism, 'demonize' Muslims

By Battini Rao*
The parliament of India on August 6 put its stamp of approval on bills abrogating article 370 and downgrading the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to two union territories. When the representatives of the people of India were deciding the fate of the state, the people of J&K were forced into collective house arrests.