The Ministry of Education has directed all states and Union Territories to fix the minimum age for admission in Class 1 as six years, officials said on Wednesday.
According to the new National Education Policy (NEP), the foundational stage consists of five years of learning opportunities for all children (between 3 to 8 years) that includes three years of preschool education followed by Classes 1 and 2.
“The policy thus promotes seamless learning and development of children from pre-school to class 2. This can only be done by ensuring accessibility to three years of quality preschool education for all children studying in Anganwadis or government, government-aided, private and NGO-run preschool centers,” a senior MoE official said.
“The ministry has directed state governments and UT administrations to align their age to admission with the policy and provide admission to class 1 at the age of six years and above,” the official added. The Supreme Court had last year observed that children should not be sent to schools at a very young age keeping in mind their psychological and mental health.
The MoE officials said the most important factor at the foundational stage is the availability of qualified teachers who are especially trained in the age and developmentally-appropriate curriculum and pedagogy.
The ministry has also advised states to initiate the process of designing and running a two-year diploma in preschool education (DPSE) course in their respective jurisdiction.
“The course is expected to be designed by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and run or implemented through District Institute of Education and Training (DIETs) under supervision and hold of SCERTs,” he said.