The initiative of the Punjab government to start pre-primary classes in the government schools is likely to play a very pivotal role in the life of toddlers. In fact, the child used to be given the primary education at home, before sending him to the school in Pre-Nursery and Nursery earlier known as Kachhi and Pakki class, But to counter the private pre-nursery classes for the middle class and low-income families, the start of pre-primary will offer an enriched environment, academic simulation and many socialization opportunities for children who are of the same age group.
It has been felt that early schooling in India plays an important role in preparing children emotionally, mentally, socially and physically for higher education and proper understanding of different subjects.
At the same time, the good primary education inspires both parents and students to enrol for pre-primary and higher level at the later stages of higher studies. India follows a systematic process of preschool education to impart knowledge in the best possible way for better understanding of the young children. By following an easy and interesting curriculum, teachers strive hard to make the entire learning process enjoyable for the children.
On completion of pre-primary education, the children are sent to the primary stage but pre-primary education in India is not a fundamental right. In rural India, pre-primary schools are rarely available in small villages and urban areas on the contrary. The age limit for admission in the nursery is 3 to 4 years. The duration of the classes would be three hours and everything would be free of cost. This would help in strengthening physical, intellectual as well as creative faculties in children and would be well conversant with the school environment
The idea behind this move is to improve the intake strength of children in government schools besides real utilization of food being made available to the Aanganwadi Centers opened for overall development of children and above all, raising the standard of quality education. gigantic initiative under Padho Punjab Padhao Punjab project by inducing the children of 3-6 years from Aanganwadi centres to government primary schools, without making the availability of required infrastructure of teachers, accommodation etc.
Despite non-availability of basic needs to run the pre-primary classes, the education department has been able to enrol around 1.25 lac children honouring the instructions started on the day of celebrations of Children’s Day – the birthday of Pt.Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
With such a heavy admission on a single call by the teachers is appreciable but it has raised number of questions on the success of the project, so far as the availability of funds are concerned especially all other teaching class are almost on the roads protesting for regularization, regular release of wages, filling up of vacant posts. Even he Aanganwadi workers have organized a massive rally at Patiala for better service avenues and opposing the start of pre-primary classes in the schools.
During the visit to the nearby schools in Ferozepur district, it was seen that there is shortage of accommodation, amusement equipments of the tiny-tots, mental development toys, stationary for drawings, colored pencils, eatables for small kids, pictorial books, decoration of rooms with catchy sketches, arrangements for transportation and maid to take care of children in washrooms or in the event of vomiting besides the required skilled teaching staff for this particular field.
Merely issuing the directives would not suffice even though the teachers have made admissions in the absence of basic needs.
It looks that the root-level study has not been made to take care of the children physically, emotionally, socially and making the education more interesting.
More-so, even the basic announcement of the release of Rs.1000 to the schools has not been reached them. In all, there looks to be lack of coordination in planning the big project at the state level.
It would have been more appropriate if the Aanganwadi workers had been taken into confidence which they have now flatly refused to associate with the pre-primary classes. Rather, they are openly opposing the scheme of admission.
Various teachers unions - Elementary Teachers Union, ETT Teachers Union, B.Ed Front Punjab – represented by Sukhjinder Singh Khanpuria, Gurjit Singh Sodhi, Paramjit Singh Pamma, Sarbjit Singh Bhawra have demanded that the department should provide the basic needs including the food, to run the pre-primary classes on priority. Also, take the Aanganwadi workers into confidence to take the responsibility in the schools.
Frankly speaking, previous research in other countries has shown that those investments on quality in primary and pre-schooling and daycare yield relevant social returns.
In fact, families in slum areas make their children sit at home till the age of five years, whereas in rural and urban areas, parents get them admitted to private schools in pre-primary classes. Later, they don't bother to shift their kids to government schools.
The teacher’s vigour, zest and zeal for the pre-primary classes project would only be useful and depend upon as to how serious is the education department in making available the basic infrastructure.
The road ahead is not easy with the existing paraphernalia but that does not mean that we cannot reach the destination. Despite this challenged pilot project, the only need is to overcome these challenges with dedication and devotion to the staff face and they have the power to face it.
The teachers who have to handle the children must be given a refresher training by the professionals to get the best results of the pilot project, otherwise, it will be a cake for the parents without the cherry.
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