Guidelines For Private Play Schools In India Are A Dud

This could well be a KBC question. Which Government organization has put up guidelines for regulating private play schools in India? The options are NCERT, CBSE, Ministry of Education, NCPCR. Surprise, surprise, the answer is NCPCR. An obscure organization – the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has published regulatory guidelines for private play schools in India.

NCPCR comes under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, and not the Ministry of Education, as one might think. It does not matter though. The general refrain would be that whoever comes up with regulatory guidelines for private play schools in India is fine, as long as they are sensible and delivers for the sake of the children.

Just that, they do not deliver. And, they are also nowhere closer to being the guidelines apart from the name. The guidelines for regulating private play schools in India are outright dud – inept and feckless. Wonder if any play schools or parents are even aware of these so-called guidelines. Not to worry, they won’t miss out on anything significant. That itself is the biggest worry though.

Here are some gems from the regulatory guidelines for private play schools in India:

Anonymous And Undated Document

This is extremely odd and unusual. The Government guidelines are notorious to carry the umpteen names of the officials and their designations who are involved in the drafting and the publishing of the document. There will be 10 different pages of message from the honourable minister, secretary, foreword, development team, acknowledgement etc enough to make a reader stop reading further.

In this particular guideline – there are no names. The Government officials, prone to show their designations and powers, are conspicuous by their absence. Even more weird is that the document is undated. Apart from NCPCR, there is no knowing that this is a Government guideline. It looks like the Government officers knew the shabby job they have done and do not want to be associated with it.

Even this would have been fine if the guidelines would serve the intended purpose. But!!!

Lots And Lots Of Authority But Not Children

The guidelines mention various types of authority – competent being the dominant variant. We are introduced to local, appellate, academic and also the plain vanilla type – only mentioned as the authority. The word “authority” features 46 times in the document. Comparatively, the word “children” comes up 31 times in the guidelines.

This gives the flavour of what’s in focus for the guideline. It is not the children that matter, but the show-off of the all-important “authority”. What is a Government guideline that bears the interest of the subject but not the powers of “authority”? The children have no chance to show up in front of the mighty Government authority.

Even this would have been fine if the authority was sensible enough and put to good effect. But!!!

Where Does The ICDS Come From?

The competent authority is the ICDS officer. Now, from where does ICDS parachutes into the play school regulation? ICDS is the Integrated Child Development Services, launched way back in 1975. ICDS is responsible for Anganwadi, which is where no child should ever be and never actually is, apart from collecting the free food. Anganwadi themselves are a sham, devoid of any regulation.

The Government officers who put up a charade of working for a child’s good and make a complete hash out of it are responsible to regulate play schools!!! This actually would be a well-guarded secret. Not just parents, the play schools too won’t be aware of this. I doubt if even the ICDS officials would know that they are entrusted to regulate play schools.

Even this would have been fine if the guidelines were good to go with. But!!!

The Non-Existent Guidelines

What should be the play school area for the given number of children? What should be the size of the outdoor play area? How much investment is required? What should be training/qualifications for teachers/caregivers? What’s the reference point for equipments, books, toys and other elements? The guidelines offer no answer for the above questions or for that matter, any of the questions.

Sample this. The curriculum will be laid down by the authority (can’t have enough of them) specified by MWCD, GoI with the first objective as conformity with the values enshrined in the Constitution. So, going by this, the NCERT preschool curriculum is null and void (it is a different matter that on its own too, it deserves the same treatment).

If a play school does want to follow the regulatory guidelines, there are none reasonable to follow.

And, this is not fine.

The Saga Continues

The Government’s vain efforts go nowhere to regulate the play schools. The parents pack off their kids to unregulated play schools with unfounded hope. The children miss out on their childhood, not even getting to know the fun and the play of being a child. The play schools flourish with zero accountability to gullible parents and clueless Government with the kids’ lost childhood as casualties.

The saga of letting down the child continues. The current example is the dud NCPCR regulatory guidelines for private play schools in India.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

10 things my daughters are growing up without

Every parent would want to give the best possible childhood to their children. We are no exception, trying hard in our own way, unsure and wavering, but trying nevertheless our understanding of what parenting is. Whilst working on a list of what my daughters are growing up with, I also put together things that they are not doing, that they are growing up without. Some of these are well thought out, calculated decisions, whilst some are inadvertent.  Sharing with you, in no particular order, what O +ve and B +ve are not having in their life, at present.

Playschool: A WIP decision, so as to say. Our daughters are 3.5 years and my wife and I believe that they currently belong to their home space. They are in the familiar ground, exploring and learning at their own pace, adequately engaged and occupied. Eventually, they might go to school. When and where? We are taking six months at a time to get to that and are not in a hurry at all on that front. One thing we know for sure is that we want them to just enjoy their childhood. Whenever we go out or have people over, we are often bombarded with advice as to how much damage all of this will cause to our kids. More on this later.

Television: Barring for a year in Mumbai, i.e. 2008, we never had a television in our life. In the course of the day, there are times when there is too much of action around me, I do feel tempted to use the services of the idiot box to get them off my back and buy myself some time to breathe, some time to go to the washroom. But the repulsion that we have for the passivity that television brings along with it never allows us to put this thought into action. The result – our twins are growing up without TV. They do know about its existence, they get to occasionally check it out during their social visits and hospital visits where it is perpetually on. Thankfully they aren’t asking for it as yet.

Advertisements: This is a conscious one. We know that girls are growing up to be a part of a society which promotes consumerism in every possible way. Why do they have to know now – which detergent powder to use, which toothpaste to use, what clothes to wear and so on? I do not like “Pester Power”, the term used by advertisers to manipulate children and their thoughts. And I hate advertisements which show children vouching for a product. I googled and realized that there are countries that ban advertisements aimed at children, but as is the case in India – yahaan sab kuch chalta hain.

Pink: Since we began shopping for our daughters, we have had to buy two sets of everything to keep things separate and to ensure easy identification. Thanks for this, we were saved from the deluge of PINK. But soon realised that the only other option was Blue. The omnipresence of Pink and Blue across all kids’ stuff is just nauseating. I suppose that the gender stereotyping starts right from birth. Our girls have a right to all the colours of the rainbow – if it means getting them to paint their stuff in colours of their choice, getting stuff tailored and customised for them, then so be it. Our twins are not dependent on any colour for the identity of their gender.

Barbie: Girls play with dolls and boys play with cars, girls play with kitchen sets and boys play with blocks. O +ve and B +ve love playing with all 4 mentioned above and more. They have of course been gifted Barbies, which lie wrapped up in the cupboard somewhere, with the wife certain that she is not going to gift them to any other girl either. #NoBarbieForMyGirls.

Lays: No Lays, No Pringles, No Cheetos and No Kurkure. No Soft drinks, no canned fruit juices either. The twins thrive on homemade snacks and resort to packaged biscuits, candies, chocolates and ice creams occasionally. They love their sugarcane juice and lemon juice – fresh.

Smartphone: I have never used one, my wife has got two. The girls have been told that they are free to use their father’s phone, but not their mother’s, and somehow they seem to be at peace with this rule. So, they speak to their grandparents and extended family, all on a feature phone. They are well aware that one can watch videos and video call on the smartphone, but they have never shown any interest whatsoever in picking up the smartphone. So far so good.

Friends: This is an unintended one. Not going to a playschool, not having kids of their age in the apartment where we live, not having a park or a garden or any open public space nearby in a walking distance has led to this. We are still figuring out a way out of this on a daily basis.

Movies: Wife used to be a movie-buff but after being married to a person for 11 years, who cannot sit through a movie, she has lost interest. My kids have until now not been to a cinema hall to watch a movie. Friends and cousins cry foul, they strongly recommend that we should initiate the kids into this at a young age otherwise they will find it difficult to handle the sounds and lights at a later date. We don’t think the girls are missing out on anything significant in their life on this count. When they are old enough, they could decide for themselves.

Stay at home Mother: Girls are growing up seeing their father at home and their mother going to office daily. Till now, it has been fine as their socialization has been fairly limited. We are, however, not sure how they will respond once they figure out the general norm in other families, as they grow up. And yes, they do want their mother to stay with them at home, on a continuous basis.

Malls: Have never really understood the concept of going to a mall for recreational purpose or for anything else. We do not go to malls – simply put; it is not a day well spent or so much awesome.

Not sure how these omissions from their life are going to impact them in the days to come – good/bad/somewhere in between?

What are the things that your child is growing up without?