Law Commission 259th Report: Recommendations

Law Commission 259th Report: Recommendations

Question: Early Childhood Development/ECD has finally been recognised as a development and human rights issue of critical national importance. Discuss in the context of Report 259 released by the Law Commission of India.

- Development of young children aged birth to six years is being recognised as a human and legal right of critical national importance

- ECD is a period of most rapid growth and development of the entire life span

- Foundations of cognitive physical and socio-emotional, linguistic and personality development are laid during the ECD period

- It also is a phase of maximum vulnerability arising from any sensory deprivation during this stage

Law Commission has made the following recommendations with respect to ECD and legal entitlements

- As per the recommendations of NCRWC, a new article 24A should be inserted to ensure child’s right to basic care and assistance becomes an enforceable right

- For extending the RTE to children in the under 6 age group, amendment was proposed to A21(a)

- Fundamental duty of parent and guardian to provide children education should not be limited to ages of 6 to 14 and Article 51A(k) should be amended so duty is placed on each citizen to provide opportunities for education for his/her child

- Section 11 of the RTE should be made mandatory for children above age of three years. Free pre-school education should also be provided

- Maternity Benefit Act should be amended so that benefits are increased from 12 weeks to 180 days

- Provision of maternity benefit should be obligatory for states and even cover women working in the unorganised sector

- Commission also suggested that government formulates policy or guidelines laying down specifications of paid maternity level for those employed in the private sector

- Commission has also recommended a statutory authority or Council for ECD should be created with officials from HRD Ministry, Ministry of WCD, Ministry of Finance and Commerce and Industry

- Similar Councils should also be set up at State level

- Council should be responsible for prescribing minimum universal standards for quality of services, facilities and infrastructure to be put across schemes and provisions pertaining to early childhood

- With respect to section 6 of the NFSA, some guidelines or methods should be laid for identifying children who are malnourished and referring them to appropriate healthcare providers

- Teachers should be trained to provide early childhood education and there should be budgetary allocation to fund training programmes to ensure quality standards and effective implementation

- Commission has also recommended each child under six should have unconditional right to creche and day care provided, regulated and operated by the state

- Provision of creches should be made the duty of the State, especially with respect to the unorganised sector

Facts and Stats

- According to the 2011 Census, India is home to 158.7 children in the age group of 0-6 years

- This is around 16% of the total Indian population

- In the years from 2008-2013, 43% of Indian children under 5 were underweight while 48% had stunted growth

- As per the WB report, mortality rate of children under 5 years of age is 53 per 1000 live births

- As per a 2013 UNIVEF report, 60 m Indian children under 5 years are stunted

- India ranked 112th position in 2012 in the Child Development Index
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