Nursing the admission headache

It’s a matter of just two days when the process of enrolling the capital’s young ones in a school will begin. 

Parents of these little angels seem to be enjoying a double bonanza – seeing them going to school for the first time and sending them on fair terms and conditions. 

But private unaided schools are busy attending meetings hoping for something unexpected – a way out of the new guidelines, which tied their hands by abolishing 20 per cent management quota.

But educationalists say there is nothing that these unaided recognised private schools can do.

In a setback to private schools in the city, the Delhi High Court on Friday rejected a plea seeking a stay on new guidelines for nursery admissions. The court fixed the matter for final hearing on March 11.

Legal experts say the next hearing won’t change anything. “Private schools should not keep high hopes as the next date of hearing will not change anything for them,” says an advocate with the Delhi High Court.

The HC declined any interim relief to unaided recognised private schools, which sought quashing of the notification on nursery admission guidelines. Justice Manmohan says the petitions required “detailed hearing and it cannot be stayed on the first day.” He asked the Delhi government and the Directorate of Education to file their responses within three weeks.

The Action Committee for Unaided Recognised Private Schools had sought setting aside of the 2014-15 guidelines on the ground that the office of the Lieutenant Governor lacked the power to frame them.

Advocate N K Kaul, appearing for the Action Committee, says the new guidelines are arbitrary. Some private school associations have been challenging the nursery admission guidelines, which abolished the 20 per cent management quota and gave 70 per cent weightage to neighbourhood schools criterion.

Most of the parents in the city are satisfied with the new nursery admission guidelines approved by the Lieutenant Governor. “Till last year only sibling or alumni cases could secure seat in most of the established school,” says Rama Kapoor, who is seeking admission in nursery for her four-year-old daughter.

According to founder Sumit Vohra, admissions will now have to be done on the basis of 100 points, where 70 points will go to children who live within 8 km radius of a school. “We are happy that alumni points has been decimated to five points as we were protesting against alumni points for the past four to five years, which schools gave much importance to and would do indirect screening. Some schools even gave up to 40 points for alumni,” Vohra says.

Some parents say it is unfair that parent alumni category got only five points when they wanted their child to study in the same school as themselves. “We want our son to go to the same school where we studied. But now the chances of that are bleak,” says Tanvar Sethi, a south Delhi resident. 

Others say that points for first child being taken away is unfair especially when siblings got points. “When siblings have been given some points why can’t first child get some preference,” says Bhumika Pandey, a mother of a five-year-old daughter.

Principals of unaided private schools say that institutions were not consulted while deciding on the guidelines. The new guidelines for nursery admissions for 2014-15 session abolished the 20 per cent management quota. “With the new guidelines in place, I can’t even assure my sister that her child can get admission in my school,” says Anjali Tandon, in-charge of nursery admission, ASN Senior Secondary School in Mayur Vihar Phase-I.

Under these guidelines 70 points out of 100 have been given to candidates who live within 8 km of the school. “Instead of keeping 8 km radius as a flat rule, the DoE should have divided points like maximum points from zero to 3 km radius and then 3 to 5 km radius, so on and so forth,” adds Tandon.

Some schools were not happy with 20 points given to those children who have a sibling studying in the school. “What about those who don’t have any siblings? Such kids will lose out on 20 points,” Tandon says.

Under the new guidelines, the wards of alumni will get five points. Last year, some schools were giving up to 40 alumni points. “Suppose both parents of a child were alumni of the school, in that case only five points are a bit too less,” says Sonia Verma, Vice Principal of Salwan Public School in Rajendra Nagar.Even the five per cent reservation for girls did not go down well with schools. “We have a total of 200 seats in nursery classes. According to the new guidelines, 10 seats are reserved for girl candidates. But how did the government come to this five per cent criteria? It is not justified,” Tondon says.

Heartburn for school authorities 

The petitions filed by these schools say the guidelines were against the principle of autonomy as the recognised unaided private schools were given the power by the central government to formulate their own admission criteria for 75 per cent seats.

The new guidelines were finalised by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, who was asked by the High Court to look into the matter after an NGO filed a petition saying that the guidelines were not in accordance with the Right to Education Act.

According to the revised guidelines, 70 points out of 100 will be given to kids who live within 8 km from school. Besides these, applicants who have sibling studying in the same school will get 20 points and five points will be added by default in the applications of girls and wards of school alumni.

Jung divided the total seats into categories like 25 per cent for economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. Five per cent seats for staff children and another five per cent for girls in co-educational schools.

The remaining 65 per cent seats are for the general category.

The admission process for nursery classes will start on January 15 and the last date for submission of applications is January 31.

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