In the wake of the recent assault on a ten-month-old girl at a crèche in Khargar, a Mumbai-based think tank, Early Childhood Association, comprising more than 200 preschools and experts, has started an online petition directed towards Maneka Gandhi, Union minister for women and children welfare. The ministry is preparing guidelines for safety of preschoolers and toddlers.
In the petition, experts said the ministry must hold consultations with parents, educators and stakeholders in the early childhood sector before formulating safety guidelines. The ministry didn’t take inputs from stakeholders and parents while drawing up the early childhood education policy, say experts. “There are loopholes in the national policy on ECCE, 2013, because of unilateral decisions so this time we want to be included in the policy making,” said Swati Popat Vats, president, Podar Education Network.
Popat said a similar process of consultation was successfully adopted by the human resources development ministry during the draft formation of the new National Education Policy. “Our young children are our future generation and we need to ensure their safety, proper growth and development in these fast changing times,” she said.
While drafting safety regulations, experts urged the government to ensure that requisite arrangements are made for the birth to three years age group. “This will convey to educators, parents and others that children below the age of three years are entitled to quality professional care based on play at crèches, daycares, balwadis, anganwadis and playschools,” reads the petition.
Quality professional play environments, based on care for the birth to three age group, benefits both the stimulation required for crucial brain development and a support to working parents are other suggestions. “Countries around the world divide the care for this age group under crèche (birth to 3 years) and kindergarten (3 to 5 years), we can follow the same,” said Vats.
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