In order to implement the National Education Policy (NEP), Karnataka’s position paper on early care and childhood education (ECCE) has suggested government regulation for the education of children in the 0–6 year old age group, which is now mostly unregulated.
The report recommends that Karnataka require all ECCE and elementary school service providers, whether they are government or non-government, to register with their local panchayat or corporation and acquire a No-Objection Certificate with periodic renewal under NEP. It recommends that the state establish a responsible authority to create quality standards, which cover infrastructure—minimum necessary space, water and sanitation, observance of facility safety standards, food preparation, adult supervision, and other child protection measures.
Minimum standards for staff qualifications and training, staff wages, acceptable curricula, and the availability of teaching and learning resources are all part of the quality standards. The panel recommended that an accreditation mechanism be created, that quality standards and standard operating procedures be agreed upon, and that all preschools be given a minimum amount of time to achieve necessary levels of quality. A reliable data management system should be in place for the state.
The state currently has 65,911 approved anganwadis, 276 Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan pre-primary sections co-located with existing primary schools, 908 SDMC-run pre-primary classes in government schools, and 10,109 registered private standalone pre-schools – 404 aided and 9705 private fee-paying schools.
“The mindset that pre-schooling is not a specialised programme and may be managed by anyone without any knowledge of education or child development is one of the key causes of the substantial quality disparity in ECCEs. In ECCEs, there are no requirements for infrastructure, rules for hiring teachers, or methods for evaluating the calibre of educational and developmental activities. In ECCE, there is no standardisation of standards or educational structure. The focus on writing and other unscientific methods is overemphasised in private schools, victimising pupils from a young age and placing undue pressure on them “stated the report.
Under NEP, private education will become more affordable, the group recommended a fee cap. “The cap must permit schools to hire highly competent instructors, pay them a respectable salary along a reasonable pay scale, and provide suitable educational facilities. The era of for-profit colleges with unqualified, low-paid faculty members ought to be over by now “It read.
Aware of the popularity of English as a language of instruction, the group has recommended that “children should be required to reach fundamental proficiency in two languages by nine years” and that “the nomenclature of first and second language and medium of instruction should be done away with.”