MANARASNTRA PRESCHOOL CENTRE ACT : FORMULATION, IMPLICATIONS& IMPLEMENTATION !n August 1995, Government of Maharashtra appointed the, State level Committee on Early Childhood Education under the Committee, including Mrs. Nalini Training Institute, Chairmanship of Prof. Ram Joshi (Ex. Vice Chancellor, Bombay Maharashtra Ba! Shikshan Parishad). There were 8 Members of on the committee, Including Mrs. Nalini Chhugani Principal SBSJ Teacher's Institute, who represented Indian for Preschool Education, Bombay Bra nch. The committee was asked to study the prevaeni situation in Maharashtra and submit a report within four months The members travelled to different regions of Maharashtra, visited preschools, held public meetings to gain the first hand knowledge of the existing in preschool education About 3000 questionnaires were sent to various personnel in the area of ECE to ascertain their views In January 1996, the committee submitted a comprehensive report to the State Education Minister, Mr. Sudhir Joshi. Th e recommendations stressed complete reorganization of the preschools, providing specific suggestions. These recommendations were accepted by the government in ‘toto’. Which was announced at the Press Conference. (Annexure l) In May, 1997, the State Government published Maharashtra Preschool Centres (Regulation of Admission Act, 1996), which was based on the recommendations of the Committee).(See Annexure II) The Salient features of the Act are : i) All preschool centres should be registered. ii) The Preschool authority shall give admission to neighborhood children on priority basis. Eighty percent children will be admitted by drawing lots, the rest on the discretion of the management. iii) The preschool authority will not conduct any i nterview or test of a child or parents for the purpose of admission. iv) v) vi) No specific books or set of booklets will be prescribed by the preschool authority. Informal method of education shall be followed in the preschool centre. The children between the ages of 3-4 years shall be admitted to the preschool centre. Thereafter various meeting and seminars have been organized to discuss the implication of the act and to seek clarification related to various classes of the act. The proceeding and recommendations of some of these meetings are at annexure III and IV. Annexure I Recommendation's made by the State Level Committee on Early Childhood Education The state level committee of early childhood education headed by Prof. Ram Joshi (Ex. Vice Chancellor), submitted its report to the education Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Sudhir Joshi. This committee was the first one of it's kind in Maharashtra to think about Early Childhood Education with a great concern. The committee, in it's report has stated the present condition of Early Childhood Education and has recommended a comprehensive policy on Early Childhood Education, and has detailed out the possibilities of implementing the same. Early childhood education must be provided a status as an 'important a nd exclusive field of education' and hence the State Govt. must make a special budgetary provision for it's development. This is one of the important suggestions along with the others, that the committee wishes the Government to take up seriously and urgen tly. Some of the other important recommendations are : t. There should be a legal binding on organisations to take permission and recognition for starting and running preschools. 2. An autonomous board should be set up as 'Maharashtra Balshikshan Mandal for regulating the Early Childhood Education in the state. This board would 3. have the expertise and a board of Directors of non -government individuals. Interviews, tests, donations for admission to preschools should be banned by the State Government. Children under the age of three, should not be allowed to seek admission to preschool under any circumstances. 4. In order to bring about a coordination among the preschools functioning under various Government departments, its regulation and control be brought under the proposed autonomous board. 5. Government should encourage the voluntary organisations to start preschools, make provisions for their aid and also some special incentives and provision for those preschools in the moffusil, difficult and hi lly areas. 6. Only trained teachers should be appointed in the preschools. Minimum educational qualification for taking up this kind of training should be SSC and this special training should be of minimum one year duration. Similarly, there should be specified time scale with service conditions and facility of in -service training for preschool teachers. 7. 8. Short term (less than 6 months) intensive and correspondence courses of 'preschool teacher training' should be prohibited legally. Such courses should be conducted only by the recognised Institutions. The duration of training courses should be one year at least. The nature of early childhood education should be totally non -formal and there should be no scope for formal learning of the 3 Rs. 1n this context the recommendation made by the Yash Pal Committee should be accepted by the State Government. Young minds should not be burdened and confused by competitions and examinations at this tender age. Besides these the committee strongly feels th at, this important and exclusive field of early childhood education must get the status it deserves. In order to focus the attention towards it, the Government can declare 1996-2005 as a Early Childhood Education Decade and 15th November as a Balshikshan D in. While making these recommendations, the committee has industriously worked on considering the valuable recommendations made by other committiees constituted so far by the Government of India, on education and has also incorporated the important principles and historical perspective of early childhood education. This is the most unique feature of this report. Annexure ll Maharashtra Government Gazette Notitcation In pursuance of clause (3) of article 348 of the onstitution of India, fhe following translation in English of the Maharashtra Pre-School Centres (Regulation of Admission) Act, 1996 (Mah. XXIV of 1997), is hereby published under the authority of the Governor. By order and in the name of the Governor of - Maharashtra PRATIMA UMARJI, Secretary to Government. MAHARASHTRA ACT NO. XXIX OF 1997. (First published, after having received the assent of the Governor, in the "Maharashtra Government Gazette" on the 2" d May 1997). An Act to provide for compulsory registration of Pre-School Centres, by whatever name called, in the State of Maharashtra and to lay down the admission procedure and ban on prescription of books by them and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. WHEREAS it is expedient to have a special law in the State of Maharashtra to provide for compulsory registration of the Pre-School Centres, by whatever name called. in the State of Maharashtra and to lay down the admission procedure and ban on prescription of books by them, and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto; It is hereby enacted in the Forty-seventh Year of the Republic of India as follows: 1. (1) This Act may be called the Maharashtra Pre-School Centres (Regulation of Admission) Act, 1996. 2) it extends to the whole of the State ot"Maharashtra. Short title and extent In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, (a) "admission" means formal permission given by the Pre-school Authority to a child to attend the Pre-school Centre on the working days during the academic year: (b) "Appropriate Authority" means the Education Officer (Primary Education) of the concerned Zilla Parishad constituted under the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961 or the Administrative Officer of the Municipal School Board of the concerned Municipal Council constituted under the Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act, 1965 or the Education Officer of the concerned Municipal Corporation constituted under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the City of Nagpur Corporation Act, 1948 or, as the case may be, the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations Act, 1949: (Mah. V of 1962. Mah. XI, of 1965. Bom. III of 1888. C. P. and Berar II of 1950. Bom. LIX of 1949.) C) -Child " or" Children" means the child who has or the children who have attained the age of three years but has not or have not attained the age of five years: (d) “Management" means the person, or a group of persons authorized to manage a PreSchool Centre under the provisions of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 or the Societies Registration Act, 1860: (Bom xxix of 1950 xxi of 1860) (e) "Neighboring residential Area" means a neighboring area declared as such by the Management of the Pre-School Centre; (f) "Pre-School Authority" means the Principal or Head or Incharge of a Pre-School Centre duly authorised by the Management of the Pre-school Centre for the purposes of day to day management, administration and running of the Pre-School Centre and for giving admission to children in the Centre; (g) "Pre-School Centre" means a private Shishu Kendra, Balwarg, Balwadi or Kindergarten or any other Private Pre-School Centre, by whatever name called, which is run for imparting pre-school informal education to the children. 3. Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the Management of the Pre-School Authority of every Pre School Centre shall register the PreSchool Centre in existence on the date of commencement of this Act or started thereafter with the Appropriate Authority in the manner provided in section 4 4. (I) The Management or the Pre-school Authority of every Pre-School Centre shall submit a memorandum in the form specified in the Schedule hereto annexed duly signed by the person authorised in this behalf by such Management or the Pre-School Authority to the Appropriate Authority: (a) within sixty days from the date of commencement of this Act in case of"a Pre-School Centre in existance on such date; and (b) within sixty days from the date on which a Pre-School Centre has been opened after the date of commencement of this Act. (2) The Mentorandum shall be accompanied by a fee of rupees five hundred. (3)The Appropriate Authority shall maintain a register of all such Pre School Centres. (4) The Management or the Pre-School Authority of every Prechool Centre, shall, inform the Appropriate Authority at the end of every academic yea;, changes if any, in the information furnished in the Memorandum submitted by it under sub-section(1 ). (5.) The Management or the Pre-School Authority of every Pre-School give admission in such centre to the children from the residential area on priority, irrespective of their religion, race, caste, or sex, to the extent of eighty per cent of the total intake capacity of such centre and may give admission for the remaining twenty percent of the total intake capacity, at its discretion: Provided that, if the number of applications for admission from the neighbouring residential area for an academic year exceeds the seats available for such admission, the Management of the Pre-School Authority of the Pre-School Centre shall give admission to the children by drawing lots by random method: Provided further that, if the number of applications for admission to Pre-School Centre from the neighbouring residential area is less than the seats available for such admission, the children from the other areas shall be given admission by drawing lots by random method. 6. The Management or the Pre-School Authority of a Pre-School Centre shall not conduct any interview or oral test or written test of a child or its parent, for the purpose of giving admission to the child in the Pre-School Centre. (Prohibition on interviews) 7. The Management or the Pre-School Authority of a Pre-School Centre shall not prescribe any specific book, set of books or booklets for informal pre-school education for the children admitted in the Pre-School Centre. (Ban on prescription of book for preschool informal education) 8. (I) Where the Appropriate Authority on receipt of any complaint or otherwise is satisfied that the Management or the Pre-School Authority of any Pre-School Centre or any person who is in charge of or is responsible for the conduct of a Pre-School Centre has contravened any of the provisions of this Act, the Appropriate Authority may, hold or may authorise any officer not below the rank of a Group A Gazetted Officer to hold an enquiry into the alleged complaint or into the affairs of such PreSchool Centre and for submission of a report in that behalf. (Produce of enquiry) (2) The Officers, servants or members of any Pre-School Centre shall furnish any such information in their possession in regard to the affairs or the proceedings of the Pre-School Centre as the Appropriate Authority or, as the case may be, the officer authorised in sub-section (I) may require ihern to furnish. (3)The Appropriate Authority or the officer authorised in subsection(I), while holding an enquiry, shall have the powers to summon and enforce the attendance of any office bearer, servant, member, the Management, or the Pre-school Authority and to compel him to give evidence and to produce documents by the same means and as far as possibie in the same manner as is provided in the case of a Civil Cout by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. (v of 1908) (4) On completion of the enquiry under this section, on being satisfied after perusal of the enquiry report that there was contravention of any of the provisions of this Act of the rules made there under, it shall be competent for the Appropriate Authority to prosecute the Management or the Pre-School Authority or the concerned person incharge of or responsible for the conduct of the Pre-School Centre for such contravention. 9. Whoever contravenos any of the provisions of this Act, or the rules made thereunder, shall, on conviction be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees and which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both. (Penalties) 10. Where in a trail of an offence under this Act, the Magistrate is of opinion that there was no reasonable ground for making the accusation, he (q:7-4may proceed to take action against the complainant or the informant under section 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. (Compensation for accusation without reasonable cause) 11. No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall be against the State Government or any officer of Government or Zilla Parishad or Municipal Council or the Municipal Corporation for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act. (Protection of action taken under this act) 12 (I) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette and subject to the condition of previous publication, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act. (Power to make rules) (2) Every rule made under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made before each House of the State Legislature, while it is in session for a total period of thirty days, which may be comprised in one session or in two or more ' successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session in which it is so laid or !he session immediately following both Houses agree in making any modification in the rules or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made, and notify such decision in the Official Gazette, the rule shall, from the date of publication of such notification, have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect as the case may be so however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity or anything previously done or omitted to be done under that rule. Annexure III Report of Interactive Sessions on the Recommendations of the State Level Committee on ECE- Implementation and Implications The Interactive Session jointly organised by I APE & Dept. of Post graduate studies, S.N.D.T. University was held on 28.09.1996 at the Juhu Campus of the University. The session was attended by members of IAPE who were Principals, College lecturers, Teachers, Teacher educators, representatives of N.G.O .'s, Parents and other concerned persons working in the field of Early Childhood Education. The participants were informed about the content and recommendations of the report submitted by the State Level Committee on ECE, under the Chairmanship of Prof. Ram Joshi. Ms. Leena Kapadia, Superintendent, unaided schools, Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation outlined the steps taken by Maharashtra Government to implement the recommendations of the Committee. During the subsequent discussion, the participants raise d many issues of concern and questions, presented as hereunder . About the Report * Why the report of the Committee has not been made public ? Particularly to those who are directly affected by the recommendations since they need to understand the implications. Regarding the Bal Shikshan Mandal . * Who will be the members of the Bat Shikshan Mandal ? When will the Government announce the formation of the Mandal, as this is the necessary first step for the implementation of the report. Quality of Preschool Educatioh : * What steps will be taken : a. To ensure the quality of preschool education ? b. To implement the minimum specifications for preschool education identified by NCERT. Age of Admission : * As per the recommendations of the Committee, the childr en will enter Std. I at the age of 6 years, why then the Municipal Corporation has not raised the age of entry at Std. 1 to 6 + years ? Parental concerns . One of the recommendation of the Committee is to send the children to neighborhood schools, which may mean that the parents will have no option to select the school. Why should this be acceptable to parents ? Will the government enforce the fee structure for the preschools ? * How will the authorities ensure that the admission tests and donations for the entry into preschools have been stopped ? Why the government has not banned admission tests for entry into,Std. 1 ? Teachers concerns . Many preschool teachers, at present are untrained and have experience of a number of years. Now will they fit into the recommended structure of training ? Who will conduct the in-service teacher training programmes? What should be the frequency of these programmes ? Administrative Issues What is the purpose of registration ? Will the government take control of the preschools ? How will the authorities ensure that all the preschool have been registered. These are many nursery classes, which are held in private homes, N.G.O.'s Concerns : N.G.O.'s feared that the salary structure recommended by the Committee may be too high, considering the meagre resources of many N.G.Os. who run balwadis for deprived children. Special Children : * Why the committee did not consider the specific educational needs of Special children. Integration of such children in the mainstream educational s ystem should be given due importance and consideration. Annexure IV A Report of the Meeting Organised by IAPE, (Mumbai Branch) on 16.10.1997 Topic : Maharashtra Preschool Centres (Regulation of Admission) Act. 1996. Participants: Principals or their repres entatives of 41 schools covering various area of Mumbai. (The views recorded in this document are of the participants only not of the organisation i.e. IAPE (Mumbai Branch). Item 2 (e) " Neighbouring residential areas 1. The neighbouring area should be specified, preferably 3-5 k.m. area. 2. The schools are not evenly distributed. W ill the children be allowed admission in other schools if the neighbourhood school is unable to accept due to lack of seats ?. 3. This restricts the parent's right to select t he school of their own choice. Item (c) & G 'Child, Preschool Centre. Further clarification is needed - will the child who enters a preschool centre at the age of 3+, attend for 2 years or 3 ?. There should be clear direc 3+ - Nursery 4+ - lr.K.G. 5+ - Sr.K.G. 6+ - Std. I. Item 3 :- Registration i. What is the purpose of Registration ? 2. Now much control will the authorities have regarding policies, methods of teaching, fees structure etc. ? 3. Registration rules should also specify, teacher quali fications, teacher-child ratio. 4. There should be no separate registration for a preschool centre, attached to a Primary or High school, which is already registered. Item 5 Procedure of Admission : 1. This clause is an infringement on the rights of the school authorities to select children as per the norms set by the school. 2. Interviewing of parents is necessary to know the type of parents seeking admission for their children. This would prevent the possibility of anti -social elements getting in the school. 3. The schools need to consider admitting siblings & children of the alumni, hence, these should be 300 & 50$ could be admitted by lots. 4. Minority institutions are allowed to admit 50% children from their community, this right needs to be acknowledged. 5. The government authorities should not exert any kind of pressure to admit children referred by them. There is a fear that this act provides the authorities with power to use pressure on school authorities. 6. observation of children at play may be permitted to a ascertain the 'normal' development of the children as most schools are not equipped to handle handicapped children. There was a general consensus among the participants about these issues . a) b) The short term preschool teacher training co urses (less than 1 year duration) should be banned. The qualification of Diploma in ECE, awarded by University of Mumbai to be recognised for teaching up to Std. II level. c) The age of admission to Std. I should be 6 years.