If the state government has its way, school managements will no longer be able to charge exorbitant fees and demand hefty donations from parents at the pre-primary level. And there will no interviews or written tests.
The state's school education department wants to regulate pre-primary education in order to ensure that parents' interests are protected in every way possible.
"We have formulated guidelines for the policy and sought legal opinion. We are against the kind of donations taken from parents, and this is the only way we can control it," Education Minister Balasaheb Thorat told Hindustan Times.
The state government had in 1996 formulated the Maharashtra Pre-School Centres (Regulation of Admission) Act, but it collapsed before it was implemented after pressure from politicians.
This time, things are different, claimed Thorat, because of the Right To Education (RTE) Act. The RTE covers students from Class 1 to 8 but implies states should regulate pre-primary schools.
"The Act, that speaks of banning capitation fees, also advises states to explore bringing in fee regulations at the pre-primary level, the entry point for children. This gave us an impetus to revive the old Act," he said.
The guidelines for the new policy have been formulated by the Maharashtra State Council of Education, Research and Training (MSCERT) after public meetings with the various stakeholders, including parents' forums, educational institutions and NGOs.
The policy suggests preference in admission to children living within a 2-km radius, a common syllabus for all pre-primary schools and a fixed teacher-students ratio for every class.