Smt Smriti Irani
Minister for WCD
Government of India
Sub:- Withdraw the proposals detrimental to ICDS in NEP 2020; Strengthen ICDS; Bring Comprehensive Legislation on Right to ECCE
We are writing this to bring to your notice some proposals detrimental to the ICDS in the New National Education Policy 2020 adopted by your ministry. We strongly feel that the NEP 2020 will promote commercialization of Education and ultimately will lead to the dismantling of ICDS. Many of the directives in this policy will negate the concept of an education system inclusive of the diversity of our nation envisaged when it is included in the concurrent list. Moreover it will make education a commodity not a right of every citizen. We also apprehend that instead of scientific thinking and rationality, caste and gender biases and obscurantism will be promoted in the name of “Indian” values, traditions culture etc.
We are surprised that the NEP 2020 is totally silent on the ECCE Policy 2013 of the Government of India. In the NEP-2020, there is no mention of the existing curriculum, syllabus, training, monitoring and evaluation developed by the NCERT given through the 13.8 lakh anganwadi centres to nearly 4 crore children of 3-6years of age. The policy has totally negated the role played by the anganwadi workers and helpers in the last forty five years in ECCED.
NEP 2020 put forward many proposals like “prior to the age of 5 every child will move to a “Preparatory Class” or “Balavatika” (that is, before Class 1)" which has an ECCE-qualified teacher”; cadre of trained teachers where it is not clear what will happen to the anganwadi worker after this cadre is created; involvement of community, philanthropic- private partnership, introduction of well-trained social workers, counsellors, and community involvement for nutrition; over emphasis on ‘school readiness’ and functional literacy and numeracy; clustering with schools etc which are unacceptable or lacks clarity.
The document is not mentioning about the ECCE of 0-3 age children. The childcare necessities other than the teaching and the crucial role of the helpers in the ECCE are totally ignored. There should be recognition to the role of helpers in ECCE.
We strongly feel that the NEP which do not guarantee the Right to Universal free and compulsory quality Education to 3-6 year old children, if implemented, this will be the end of the very concept of early childhood care and education (ECCE) which has an holistic approach of overall development of the child with nutrition, health and informal education imparted to it in its neighborhood.
So, We demand
- Withdraw the NEP which promotes centralization, commercialization and communalization of education
- No dilution of ECCE ; No pre-school totally attached to the formal schooling system
- Strengthen the ECCE Policy and Enact separate legislation for Right to ECCE with anganwadis as the nodal agencies
- ECCE must be imparted only through the anganwadis or anganwadi model ecce centres with holistic approach ; ECCE must be totally free and compulsory (without penalizing the parents)
- No pre-school in government schools (only anganwadis in schools with no cluster), No stand-alone pre schools to be allowed.
- Strict regulation of private ECCE centres; No fees should be charged and proper working condition of the teachers , assistants and other staff with minimum wages and all facilities etc., must be ensured
- “Anganwadi Centres to be strengthened with high-quality infrastructure, play equipment, and well-trained Anganwadi workers/teachers. Every Anganwadi will have a well-ventilated, well-designed, child-friendly and well-constructed building with an enriched learning environment” within 2 years with proper budget allocation. Proper training for anganwadi workers and helpers.
- Develop anganwadis as anganwadi –cum crèches with adequate staff.
- There should be recognition of the role of anganwadi helpers in ECCE and there should be provision for their training as well as absorption in ECCE centres.
- Regularisation of anganwadi workers and helpers as government employees with all benefits.
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