Draft Play School Laws – Irrationality and Positional Bias explained

Draft Play School Laws – Irrationality and Positional Bias explained

Under the direction of Most Honourable High Court of Madras, Directorate of Elementary Education, Chennai had submitted ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ (to be called as Draft Code).

Succinctly speaking, this Draft Code is irrational, carries a positional bias and is in contravention of UNCRC, ECCE Principles enshrined by UNESCO, The Constitution of India, Right to Education Act, and National Policy for Children, 2013 (adopted on 26th April 2013).

Everybody knows that ‘Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat’ – Ignorance of Law doesn’t excuse anyone.

For clearer understanding it is suggested that, before proceeding further, ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ must be read (be it even a simple read).

Child Friendly Jurisprudence –

National Policy for Children, 2013; under the heading ‘Protection’ no. 4.12 states –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The State shall promote child friendly jurisprudence, enact progressive legislation, build a preventive and responsive child protection system, including emergency outreach services, and promote effective enforcement of punitive legislative and administrative measures against all forms of child abuse and neglect to comprehensively address issues related to child protection.”[/pullquote]

Now, just pick the phrase ‘child friendly jurisprudence’.

This simply means that the National Policy for Children, 2013 states that State shall make ‘child friendly jurisprudence’. But, what this ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ is?

Just by doing a simple reading, anybody may notice that ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ is no at all a ‘child friendly jurisprudence’, but in fact an ‘institution based jurisprudence’. All across the Draft Code, one may easily see it in the terms being used.

I am raising doubt over the Object, which the drafters of the Draft Code had in mind while developing this code.

Drafters were not at all ‘child-centric’ in their thought, when they were making this legislation, instead of being ‘child-centric’ they were ‘institution-centric’.

Now, let us see the definition of the term ‘child friendly’.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Sec. 2 (d) of The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 defines the term “child friendly” – “child friendly” means any process and interpretation, attitude, environment and treatment, that is humane, considerate and in the best interest of the child.[/pullquote]

 

Now, we would need to do an interpretation of the sections of the ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’.

Do we see that the interpretation is in the ‘best interest of the child’?

The answer is a big ‘NO’ let us move further and see more.

The Constitution of India –

India is doing a very poor job in the field of Early Childhood Care and Education. Than ever, let us see what Article 45 of the Constitution of India under its Directive Principles of State Policy, states –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years – The state shall endeavor to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.”[/pullquote]

See that, Early Childhood Care and Education is taken as a unified thing – ‘below the age of six years’.

Nowhere, any kind of age-partition is done, like zero to three years or three to six years.

The Constitution of India sees Early Childhood Care and Education as a complete thing from zero to six years (no age partitioning).

Now, we see that ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, talks of age gaps, age bracket and even age formula kind of stuff. They have included age group of one and a half years to three and a half years (as on 31st July of the year). From where, they have picked up such special age thing, from which legislation? from which ECCE principles?

One must also note that UNESCO observes Early Childhood Care and Education till the age of eight years.

National Policy for Children, 2013; under the heading ‘Preamble’ no. 2.1 (Para 3) states –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Recognising that –         – children are not a homogenous group and their different needs need different responses, especially the multi-dimensional vulnerabilities experienced by children in different circumstances; [/pullquote]

National Policy for Children, 2013, recognises that the children are not a homogenous group.

And our ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ fails to recognize this that the children are not a homogenous group.

‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ have included age group of one and a half years to three and a half years (as on 31st July of the year).

Under the heading ‘FUNCTIONING OF THE SCHOOL’ ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ states that –

The School shall work for not more than three hours per day.

The school shall open not earlier than 9.30 a.m. and shall close not later than 12.30 p.m.

The school shall have a break of 15 minutes for every one hour.

Do we see any recognition of the fact that the children are not a homogenous group?

Answer is quite clear – No.

Under the heading ‘ADMISSION OF CHILDREN’ ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ states –

Admission of Children

(a) The minimum age of children for admission in the school shall be completion of one and half years as on 31st July of the year
(b) No age exemption shall be granted in the admission of the children.
(d) The school shall admit children residing within a radius of one Kms

Do we see any recognition of the fact that the children are not a homogenous group?

Answer is quite clear – No.

National Policy for Children, 2013; under the heading ‘Preamble’ no. 2.1 (Para 4) states –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Recognising that –
– a long term, sustainable, multi-sectoral, integrated and inclusive approach is necessary for the overall and harmonious development and protection of children;[/pullquote]

 

Now let us take a regular example – in India general Office timing is 9 AM to 5 PM, whereas in some cases its 10 AM to 6 PM also. ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ has clearly stated about timing – “The school shall open not earlier than 9.30 a.m. and shall close not later than 12.30 p.m.”

Now, a working parents will keep their child in a (here so-called) ‘play school’, will go back to their office, then, will come back at 12.30 PM to take their child and will again put child in some other ‘institution’ (of Department of Elementary Education or Tamil Nadu State).

See the fact that again, the state (Department of Elementary Education or Tamil Nadu State) will have a separate ‘law’ for this separate ‘institution’ where such parents are going to keep their child. Further, if Department of Elementary Education or Tamil Nadu State comes up with again the same 3 Hour Institution law, so the parents will again come back at 3.30 PM, will take their child out to put child in some other ‘institution’ (of Department of Elementary Education or Tamil Nadu State).

Do we see any focus on the ‘care of the child’?

Do we see any ‘continuity of care’?

Now, let us again read this –

National Policy for Children, 2013; under the heading ‘Preamble’ no. 2.1 (Para 4) states –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Recognising that –
– a long term, sustainable, multi-sectoral, integrated and inclusive approach is necessary for the overall and harmonious development and protection of children;[/pullquote]

 

Now, we see that ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ is NOT –

– a long term
– multi-sectoral
– sustainable
– integrated
– inclusive approach

By giving us ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, Tamil Nadu State is failing ‘National Policy for Children, 2013’.

Through ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, the Department of Elementary Education or Tamil Nadu State is giving us a ‘Law’ which is NOT a long term, sustainable, multi-sectoral, integrated and inclusive approach and it thus it will never lead to harmonious development and protection of children.

National Policy for Children, 2013; under the heading ‘Education and Development’ no. 4.6 sates –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The State shall take all necessary measures to:
(i) Provide universal and equitable access to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for optimal development and active learning capacity of all children below six years of age[/pullquote]

Mind the usage of term – ‘universal’ after that ‘and’ is used and then ‘equitable’ is used, after that the term ‘access’ is used.

So, – ‘universal and equitable access’; To what? – to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) (NOT only Early Childhood Care and Education but to quality Early Childhood Care and Education).

Now, specifically see the last group of words being used as phrase everywhere – “of all children below six years of age”.

Thus, we see that the National Policy for Children, 2013 is very clear on these –

1. Early Childhood Care and Education must include all children below six years of age.

2. Access should be ‘universal and equitable’

3. Early Childhood Care and Education should be a ‘QUALITY’ Early Childhood Care and Education.

Period (this).

Now, when we see ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, we find that, through its several clauses and sections, the Draft Code is clearly against “universal and equitable access to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for optimal development and active learning capacity of all children below six years of age”.

‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ is clearly against “universal and equitable access to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for optimal development and active learning capacity of all children below six years of age”,

through its below mentioned clause –

– Section 2, definition clause of ‘School’,
– Chapter 2, Grant of Approval and Renewal,
– Chapter 3, Power to withdraw Approval,
– Chapter 4, Appeal,
– Chapter 5, Buildings,
– Chapter 6, Amenities,
– Chapter 7, Safety Measures.
– Chaper 10, Admission of Children,
– Chapter 11, Functioning of the Schools,

Line of paramount importance (4.7) – “A safe, secure and protective environment is a precondition for the realization of all other rights of children. Children have the right to be protected wherever they are.” And, this could be easily met along with “equitable access to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)”.

National Policy for Children, 2013; under the heading ‘Education and Development’ no. 4.6 states –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The State shall take all necessary measures to:
(v) Ensure that all out of school children such as child labourers, migrant children, trafficked children, children of migrant labour, street children, child victims of alcohol and substance abuse, children in areas of civil unrest, orphans, children with disability (mental and physical), children with chronic ailments, married children, children of manual scavengers, children of sex workers, children of prisoners, etc. are tracked, rescued, rehabilitated and have access to their right to education[/pullquote]

 

Now see what it reads – “Ensure that all out of school children … have access to their right to education”.

One must also see that this clause is NOT talking about the ‘AGE’ of ‘out of school children’.

‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, in its ‘form’ looks like ‘Right to Education’ law, but in ‘substance’, it is not at all a ‘Right to Education’ law, while opposite is surely true.

‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ is creating several ‘out of school children’, through its Age clause, Building clause, Timings clause, Distance clause.

And, ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ has not ensured that “all such out of school children (created by the Draft Code itself) have access to their right to education”.

So, instead of ensuring that all out of school children have access to their right to education, ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ is doing the opposite and in fact creating more out of school children.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to which India is a signatory, in its ‘Preamble’ has used these words (last paragraph) –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“ ….. for the protection and harmonious development of the child, Recognizing the importance of international co-operation for improving the living conditions of children in every country, in particular in the developing countries,
Have agreed as follows ……..”[/pullquote]

 

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in its Article 18 (Clause 1, 2 and 3) states –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]1. States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.
2. For the purpose of guaranteeing and promoting the rights set forth in the present Convention, States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.
3. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that children of working parents have the right to benefit from child-care services and facilities for which they are eligible.[/pullquote]

 

Read this along with, National Policy for Children, 2013 states in 4.6 –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The State shall take all necessary measures to:
(xxi) Provide and promote crèche and day care facilities for children of working mothers, mothers belonging to poor families, ailing mothers and single parents[/pullquote]

‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ through its Age clause, Building clause, Timings clause, Distance clause, Admission Clause, is in fact curtailing child-care services and facilities.

Pick this phrase from Clause 2, Article 18 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – “shall render appropriate assistance to parents”. But, ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, instead of rendering appropriate assistance is creating obstructions for parents.

Penal Provisions –

Now, let us read Sec. 15 and its sub-sections (a) and (b) of ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ –

Conditions for appointment of Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff
(a) The appointment of Teaching and Non-teaching staff should be made only after thorough verification and should be certified by the local police authority to ensure that individuals with criminal background are not appointed.
(b) The Teaching and non-teaching shall be certified by the local Primary Health Centre / Government Hospital to ensure that they do not have any communicable diseases.

Along with above mentioned Sec. 15, read Sec. 16 (Chapter 9 – TERMINATION OF T EACHING AND NON-TEACHING STAFF) and its sub-sections (a) and (b) of ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ –

Termination of Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff-
(a) The management is empowered to terminate the services of teaching and non-teaching staff appointed temporarily or while on probation or permanently for any of the following reasons after giving reasonable opportunity of making representation in this regard.
(b) Wilful and gross negligence of duty, grave misconduct, insubordination, indulging in corporal punishment, mental instability, incompetency step, physical unfitness or any behaviour found to be detrimental to the safety of the children.

Along with above mentioned Sec. 15 and Sec. 16, read Sec. 20 (Chapter 13 – BAN ON CORPORAL PUNISHMENT) of ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ –

There should be total ban for any corporal punishment. If any corporal punishment is imposed on a child, penal action shall be initiated against the management.

Now, focus attention on the ‘drafting language’ of entire ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’. One may easily notice that everywhere ‘shall’ word is being used. That means, through ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, ‘mandatory obligation’ is being created.

Now, re-read this portion of National Policy for Children, 2013; under the heading ‘Protection’ no. 4.12 states –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The State shall promote child friendly jurisprudence, enact progressive legislation, build a preventive and responsive child protection system, including emergency outreach services, and promote effective enforcement of punitive legislative and administrative measures against all forms of child abuse and neglect to comprehensively address issues related to child protection.”[/pullquote]

Now, just pick the phrase ‘promote effective enforcement of punitive legislative and administrative measures’.

Along with this read no. 7.2; under the heading ‘Research, Documentation and Capacity Building’ of National Policy for Children, 2013 –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Professional and technical competence and capability in all aspects of programming, managing, working and caring for children at all levels in all sectors will be ensured through appropriate selection and well planned capacity development initiatives. All duty bearers working with children will be sensitised and oriented on child rights and held accountable for their acts of omission and commission.[/pullquote]

Now, just pick the phrase ‘held accountable for their acts of omission and commission’.

Now observe that the Sec. 15, Sec. 16, and Sec. 20 of ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ talks about ‘acts’ which shall NOT be done by stakeholders and in Sec. 20, it also talks about ‘penal action’, but just by ‘mentioning acts’, will the stakeholders be “held accountable for their acts of omission and commission” (7.2 of National Policy for Children, 2013). The answer is a big ‘NO’.
To be “held accountable for their acts of omission and commission”, there must be clear ‘punishment’ mentioned under this ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’.

For taking ‘penal actions’ under ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, if it is taken to Indian Penal Code, we all know this, that would not amount to clear ‘liability and obligation’.

To save ‘child’ from this only we came up with separate ‘POCSO’.

To make stakeholders ‘accountable and liable’ towards the ‘CHILD’, ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, should include clear ‘penal provisions’ within the Draft Code.

In its Definition clause, ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’ states (Sec. 2(g)) –

“School” means a Play School and includes Kids School or any other Pre Kinder Garden School by whatever name it is called, which is established for imparting Informal Education to the children in the age group of one and a half years to three and a half years (as on 31st July of the year).

Pick up the phrase ‘Informal Education’.

Usage of such phrase ‘Informal Education’ is creating confusion, nowhere in this entire code the term ‘Informal Education’ is defined. Education is ‘Education’; it is not defined in such a manner as ‘Informal Education’ or ‘Formal Education’ in any other legislation as well.

National Policy for Children, 2013; under the heading ‘Education and Development’ no. 4.6 sates –

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The State shall take all necessary measures to:
(x) Ensure formulation and practice of pedagogy that engages and delights children, with a special focus on mental health, from a social and gender just, life skills and age appropriate perspective
(xi) Provide access to ICT tools for equitable, inclusive and affordable education for all children especially in remote, tribal and hard to reach areas[/pullquote]

 

Pick up the phrase ‘age appropriate perspective’. When we use this specifically with the phrase ‘delights children’ we see – Age Appropriate and Delightful and that leads to a more proper term coined by NAEYC i.e. ‘Developmentally Appropriate’.

What went wrong? –

Let us now delve deep into the reasoning, so that we may decipher as to why the Drafters of this code – ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, that is, The Directorate of Elementary Education, Chennai had submitted such a poor code (‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’).

Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen, in his Book – ‘The Idea of Justice’ provides us with the solution.

Edmund Burke, who spoke with such sympathy for the oppressed Indians under the rule of the East India Company, also spoke on the American Revolution (Burke supported it). Mary Wollstonecraft, the British radical activist and early feminist thinker opposed Edmund Burke.

Read this Paragraph from ‘The Idea of Justice – Amartya Sen’: (book is in fact a treatise on Justice, must read for everybody)

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]‘Wollstonecraft was talking, in fact, about the inadequacy of a defence of liberty when it separates out some people whose liberty and independence should be cherished and protected, leaving the plight of others unaddressed. Wollstonecraft’s opposition was to Burke’s silence on the rights of American slaves while defending the freedom of the non-slave people clamouring the independence. ……. When Mary Wollstonecraft pilloried Edmund Burke for his support of the American Revolution without taking any interest in the status of the slaves, as if the freedom that he supported for white American people need not apply to its black slaves, Wollstonecraft was arguing for a universalist perspective that would overcome positional prejudice and sectional favouritism. The point there is not positional comprehension, but some kind of a transpositional understanding. taking a ‘view from nowhere’ would obviously be the appropriate idea in that context.’
‘The search for some kind of position-independent understanding of the world is central to the ethical illumination that may be sought in a non-relational approach’.[/pullquote]

 

Coming back to the Drafters of code – ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, that is, The Directorate of Elementary Education, Chennai, we see that, they are suffering from ‘positional prejudice’.

This ‘positional prejudice’ might have come into the Drafters due to prevalent practice (rather mal-practice) of Play Schools in that society.

3 Hrs. schedule, Admission shall take place within One Km. radius, One and Half Years to Three Years child, Usage of the term – ‘Informal Education’, Usage of the term – ‘play school’, all these are prevalent mal-practice brought by scrupulous Play School Franchisers. Play School industry is more so highlighted because of the glaring marketing activity of such Play School Franchisers. And, these Play School Franchisers brought 3 Hrs. schedule, Admission shall take place within One Km. radius, One and Half Years to Three Years child, Usage of the term – ‘Informal Education’, Usage of the term – ‘play school’ for pure myopic business and marketing reasons.

The Drafters of the code – ‘The Draft Code of Regulations for Play Schools, 2015’, that is, The Directorate of Elementary Education, Chennai, needs to come out of their ‘positional prejudice’ and see things from a ‘universalist perspective’ by ‘taking a view from nowhere’ and only this would be in the ‘Best Interests of the Child’.

 

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© Copyrights reserved with Abhidha Seth, Rewati Raman Vishewar and “Preschool For Child Rights™”.

Written and Organised by Abhidha Seth and Rewati Raman Vishewar on behalf of Team – Preschool For Child Rights™

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