NCERT issues guidelines to protect privacy of children in preschools

NCERT,Privacy guidelines,preschools

Preschools across the country will have to protect the privacy of kids studying there while teachers make audio and video clips or take their photographs for assessment purposes.

This is part of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT)’s guidelines finalised for preschools after consultations with states, according to people familiar with the issue.

“Photographs and video clips: videos and audio help teachers to assess the child’s progress and program progress and boost the motivation and confidence of children. Teachers can accordingly design and modify suitable classroom practices by viewing and listening to the recordings subject to privacy considerations,” reads NCERT’s revised document with the guidelines.

People familiar with the developments said a number of states had pointed out that some preschools make videos and audios of students and share them on the social media without the consent of parents. The NCERT included this aspect in the revised guidelines as a safety measure after this.

Guidelines on “technology in preschools” focus on screen time and prohibit use of non-interactive and passive use of media for children aged below two and discourage them for kids aged between two and five.

The document notes even children have access to technology as it has penetrated into India’s remotest corners through cellphones and interactive media. “Although there is no policy statement in this area in India, research evidence suggests that use of technology for the young child may be useful if it is assistive and serves to extend children’s learning and development, such as exposing children to new vocabulary and modes of communication, motor control, conceptual understanding, causal relationships,’’ it notes.

The document underlines technology is only beneficial provided adults mediate it and is offered in a socially interactive environment. “Passive technology, which may replace children’s play and exploration, physical activity and social interaction, should be discouraged at all levels since it can be counterproductive for children. Internationally, the guidance to parents is, therefore, to follow public health advice on screen time and prohibit the use of non-interactive and passive use of media for children below two years of age and discourage it for children from 2 to 5 years.”

The NCERT has also come out with a curriculum for preschools and issued guidelines on how to implement it.

Preschools across the country were earlier free to create their own syllabus and curriculum in the absence of any guidelines.

The NCERT has suggested two-year preschool education before class I for children aged three to six. A pre-school is broadly defined as any setting that gives education to children between the age of three and six. It is usually known by different names including anganwadi, nursery, preparatory, pre-primary among others.

Officials said the document is not binding on the states as it has been prepared after consultations with most of them and they have agreed to implement it.

“We are organising a conference on August 13-14 wherein all the stakeholders, including states and experts, have been invited to examine the document and give their suggestions, if any. States will be able to implement the curriculum from this academic session,” said an NCERT official.