THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Pre-primary education remains unregulated in the state with the government turning a blind eye to it. The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy of the centre mandates pre-schooling for children aged between three and six. However, Kerala is yet to take a decision on including pre-school in the education system. Apart from playschools, crèches and pre-primary schools in the unorganised sector run by NGOs and PTAs, the state does not offer structured or uniform education to pre-schoolers here.
Recently, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) had issued a directive asking the state government to provide free pre-schooling to children. Also, several years have gone by since the education department placed a proposal to include children below six in the noon-meal scheme. However, the state has remained silent on this matter.
"Pre-primary education is an integral part of schooling for every child. Most of the pre-primary facilities in the state don't follow uniform rules or guidelines. They are not regulated by the state. It's the responsibility of the state to provide proper education to pre-schoolers," said Mr Nazeer Chaliyam, member of KSCPCR. The noon-meal scheme is denied to children below six years, which is unfair. "The commission has directed the state government to immediately take steps to provide free noon-meal to children under six and report back within 90 days. If they don't respond, we will summon the officials concerned," said Mr Nazeer.
An official of the department of general education said that the Kerala government has to take a decision in this regard. "Several discussions were held regarding pre-schooling and we have proposed curriculums for pre-schoolers. Now the government has to decide and incorporate this in the education policy," he said. The national noon-meal scheme covers only children between six and 14. "The government has to decide as it's a running project. Once launched, it has to be continued for years to come," the official added.