National Council of Educational Research and Training said that no child in pre-schools should be made to take a written or an oral test, PTI reported on Monday. The council described the practice as “harmful and undesirable”, one that arises out of “parental aspiration”. The council is an autonomous body that assists and advises the Centre and state governments on policies and programmes that help in the qualitative betterment of school education.

“On no account, should children be made to take any form of test or examination either oral or written,” the NCERT guidelines read. “The purpose of evaluation at the pre-school stage is not to label a child as ‘pass’ or ‘fail’.”

The council’s guidelines stated that children should be assessed on their qualitative judgements such as their activities, health status, physical and social well-being. Informal and systematic observations should be made, the guideline said.

“Currently we have in the country, pre-school programmes ranging from those that put children to a dull and monotonous routine to those where children are exposed to structured formal learning, often in English, made to do tests and homework, and denied their right to play,” an unidentified official was quoted as saying.

According to the guidelines, the child’s progress should also be recorded through observations of their behaviour, their artwork and other creations, interaction with other children, and anecdotal records, among other things. The assessment should help the child learn new skills and focus on their strengths.

“The progress of children should be recorded for each aspect of development on a continuous basis,” the guidelines said. “Each child’s folder should be available for parents and children to view and should remain with the preschool until such time as a child’s transition to another preschool programme or in the primary school.” It added that parents should be given a written and verbal summary report of their ward’s progress at least twice every year.

The council said that songs, stories, and other informal methods should be used to depict that girls and boys, including some with special needs, can be fit into the same roles as men and women in all professions. It said that both women and men should be depicted as leaders, heroes and problem solvers, adding that parents should also be sensitised to ensure the practice is continued at home.

The guidelines have also specified the infrastructure, qualifications, and salary for preschool staff along with several other parameters that need to be maintained.

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