The Haryana School Education Department is planning to shut down pre-primary classes in private schools across the state, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. State Education Minister Kanwar Pal said the decision was taken as studying in pre-primary classes allegedly affects a “child’s mental abilities and growth patterns” at a young age.

“...Thus the department has decided not to allow admissions in these classes in private institutions,” Pal said. “We shall be implementing it from the next session, if the admissions are not being held as per rules and regulations.”

Around 8,500 private schools across the state admit children to the nursery, lower kindergarten and upper kindergarten classes. The minister said education rules mandated that admissions would be provided from Class 1 to Class 12.

Pal said the feasibility of the move would be reviewed before it is implemented.

However, officials of the state’s education department said there were no such plans yet. Additional Director (Elementary Education, Haryana) Vandana Disodia described the speculation to shut down the pre-primary classes as a “confusion”.

Disodia said that activist Brijpal Singh Parmar, who runs a non-governmental organisation in Bhiwani district, had lodged a complaint on June 10, claiming that recognised private schools cannot admit students to pre-primary classes as it violated the rules.

Parmar’s complaint was also sent to the Women and Child Development Department, which asked the state’s School Education Department to look into the matter. Following this, the Directorate of Elementary Education marked Parmar’s reference to all the district elementary education officials.

The Woman and Child Development Department was also marked on the notification and asked to take action according to the rules and regulations, keeping the directorate in the loop. “Now, this reference is being circulated on social media. But, no such decision to shut down Nursery classes, has been taken, as yet,” Disodia said.

An unidentified senior official said that the Right to Education Act is applicable only from Class 1. “There is an issue that these schools are not affiliated as far as admissions to the pre-primary classes are concerned,” the officer said. “They had been seeking the same for a long time. Rather, the government is contemplating on granting affiliation to these institutions by amending certain provisions.”

Parmar confirmed that he had sent a complaint to the education department in June, adding that no action was taken. Following a Right to Information query, the activist received the status of his complaint saying that the authorities had decided to shut pre-primary classes in private schools.

National Independent Schools Association’s National President Kulbhushan Sharma called the move “completely absurd”, and said the pending new education draft was expected to be finalised in a few months. Raising several problems with the government’s decision such as job loss among others, Sharma said that the move cannot be taken without appropriate studies done on it.

“I heard that one government officer has said that anganwadis’ standards shall be upgraded to accommodate such students,” Sharma told the newspaper. “When the government, till date, has not been able to upgrade the standards of government schools, how can they even think of talking about anganwadis’ standard upgradation.”