Preschool education in India is governed by several national and international commitments, as well as specific policies and guidelines. Key aspects include:
Constitutional Mandate and International Commitments:
Article 45 of the Indian Constitution, amended in 2002, mandates Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for all children until they complete the age of 6. India has also ratified international treaties like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1992), emphasizing children’s rights, including early education.
National Policies and Programs:
Various policies and schemes like the National Policy for Children (1974), Integrated Child Development Services (1975), National Education Policy (1986, 2020), Right to Education Act (2009), and the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) have been implemented, focusing on ECCE. The National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy was introduced in 2013, with the National ECCE Council set up in 2014 to oversee its implementation.
Curriculum and Guidelines:
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) developed a Preschool Curriculum in 2019, and the National Curriculum Framework is being redesigned in 2023 to cover preschooling requirements.
Despite the proliferation of private preschools, there is no strict implementation of registration rules. Education is a concurrent subject in India, allowing both Central and State governments to legislate on education. The National ECCE Policy (2013) and the regulatory Guidelines for Private Play Schools by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights are key documents governing preschools.
Age Group and Other Regulations:
Guidelines vary regarding the minimum age for preschool admission, with differences observed in state-specific rules. Issues like the inclusion of disadvantaged groups, non-profit operations, and the use of residential property for preschools are also addressed under various guidelines.
Tax and Financial Aspects:
Private preschools running for profit do not receive tax exemptions. However, preschool education services are exempt from GST, although income from franchise models attracts GST.
Preschool education in India is a multifaceted domain, regulated by a mix of policies, guidelines, and practices at both national and state levels.