– Dipta Joshi
The Maharashtra education ministry’s government resolution (GR) dated September 18 mandating December 31 as the new cut-off date for pre-primary and class 1 school admissions has received flak from educators in the state as it will lead to much younger children being admitted to pre-primary and class I and result in premature formal learning. Moreover this out-of-the-blue order meddling in the admission calendar by the ruling Shiv Seva-NCP-Congress coalition government has created panic and uncertainty within school managements and the parents community already struggling to cope with the huge education disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new cut-off date was a recommendation of the director of education (primary) who constituted the one man committee to look into the schools admission process. The idea was to bring about a common cut-off date for school admissions across all educational boards in the state despite their differing academic calendars – schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CICSE) begin their session in April while those affiliated to the state education board begin their sessions in June each year.
Early childhood educators have asked the government to revoke the GR since it would be detrimental impact young learners’ language and social development skills. Educators worry having younger children in the classrooms will negate the benefits of the new education policy (NEP 2020) that promotes a lighter load for students by cutting back on the syllabus. However, a deeper study reveals, the actual damage impacting almost all the stakeholders in the field of education.
- “Typically, 2.5 year olds are able to use sentences having just two or three words while 3 year old toddlers are able to form sentences with three to five words. Unlike 3 year old children, toddlers aged 2.5 years are unable to take turns when speaking which is a key skill for pre-school attendees,” says Swati Popat Vats, president, Association for Primary Education and Research and the Early Childhood Association that has a membership of 9000 schools in Maharashtra.
- “Unless there is a strict age criteria directed by government policies, most parents might end up admitting their wards earlier rather than later in a bid to expose them (the children) to maximum classroom structured learning. Most parents remain unaware of the unnecessary stress such children could face in the long-term when burdened with more lessons than they are capable of handling,” says Saru Mukherjee Sharma, a mom blogger and influencer who writes on parenting issues through her blog, Diapers and Lipsticks.
- “Most playgroups have already been forced to shut down in the wake of schools shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic leading to their teachers getting unemployed. If the latest government directive comes into force, it will sound the death knell for stand-alone playgroups in the state,” says Vinay Jain, founder, Witty group of institutions.