Playschools: Set Minimum StandardsThe government has decided to regulate the business of playschools those institutions that admit children as young as 1 year in either the Montessori or other systems. It is thinking of fixing the minimum age for admissions to such schools at 3 years. It is true that some unscrupulous entrepreneurs have been cashing in on the fears of parents to prepare their children for admission into reputed schools. These parents are concerned that their child would be left out if he or she is not admitted to playschool, as there is a misconception that these schools prepare the child for admission to secondary schools. This misconception has in part been generated by some such schools promising admission in reputed secondary schools.
By Sunil Garodia
But it is also true that playschools play an important role in the development of the child although it is debatable if 1 year olds should be admitted. The Montessori system of child development, as also the new ones that have come up like progressive education, multiple intelligence mapping, playway method, holistic learning, are all being followed to train the child in various ways like recognizing colours, shapes, sounds and alphabets. These schools also teach the child to mix with others of his or her age and react in given situations. Hence, their importance is not to be discounted.
The governments efforts to regulate are laudable because in the absence of any regulatory framework, these schools are being started by all and sundry in every lane of towns and cities, some without any concern for the safety of the child. While the more reputed ones take care to have excellent premises, most others just make do with any hall partitioned into small, cramped classrooms. Absence of even small playgrounds is another area of concern. Then there is the need for qualified teachers. Most playschools just keep minders instead of trained teachers to cut down on salaries. This can adversely affect child development.
The government must ensure that minimum standards are met by people wishing to start a playschool. These standards should specify the minimum educational qualification of person starting the school, requirement of space, appointment of trained teachers and the Principal, playground and equipment, toilets and medical and first-aid facilities. But the government must not interfere with the day to day working of these schools. Independence must be allowed if the minimum standards are met.