The huge demand for pre-schooling in Delhi-NCR has led to the mushrooming of all kinds of play schools. Most, however, function without adequate infrastructure and don’t have trained teachers and auxiliary staff. Dr Indu Kaura, coordinator of the Rajkumari Amrit Kaur Child Study Centre, which was established in 1955 and is one of the model pre-schools in Delhi, talks on the issue:
Is the environment of playschools in Delhi-NCR suitable for the right growth and development of a child?
Children need a cheerful environment to grow in but many playschools are claustrophobic though the buildings are fancy. I have seen parents, who had admitted their child to other playschools earlier, come to us and ask if the child would be locked up inside the classroom. We have a policy of a barrier-free school. All classrooms are open. Of course, that doesn’t mean compromising the safety of the child.
Do most playschools follow any basic norms on how they should be run or take safety measures?
There are playschools that operate from first floors though children of that age should study in classrooms on the ground floor. Some even have classrooms in the basement. Where is the concept of safety? Can’t the government see all this?
How important is the role of parents at your child study centre?
Many playschools create a boundary of family and school though family’s involvement in the whole process is very important. It’s all of us together — the child, school and parents.
Though the number of playschools have grown rapidly, most don’t have adequate number of teachers who specialise in early child education.
Most teachers we have here are graduates who have done nursery teacher training. We organise training programmes for them after which they are given a certificate. Most playschools pay salaries to teachers that are equal to what a maid is paid. The problem is also in formal schools where a nursery teacher gets paid the least. A class barrier is created between those who teach senior classes and nursery teachers. That is why we don’t get good teachers. Early child care has to be seen as a profession. Young people get paid more if they join a call centre than if they choose to become a nursery teacher. Why would anyone come?