No end to nursery admission muddle

Tricky issue

Getting your child admitted in nursery in a reputed private school of Delhi has for long been known to be a nightmarish process.

But this year, it has assumed epic proportions. For the first time in the history of primary education in the City, the whole process has been delayed by a month. While sessions in the nursery wing of every school start by April 1-3 each year, this time, they are not expected to begin before April 25th.

The controversy began in December last year after inconsistencies were found between the Right to Education Act and the admission guidelines framed by ex-CBSE chief Ashok Ganguly. The Lieutenant Governor framed new guidelines with points for inter-state transfer cases, but soon parents were found to be producing fake transfer certificates to get their wards admitted. The High Court declared even the second draw of lots done by schools null and void, and now parents are in a situation where they have to start filling forms afresh when the whole process should have been completed by now.

And yet, the ‘nursery admission mess’ looks nowhere near a resolution with at least five court cases filed by different stakeholders on the issue pending hearing. These will again, likely, cause protests and delays either this year
or next.

Sumit Vohra, Founder, Admissionsnursery.com – an online forum for parents with school-going kids, says this is unprecedented, “Parents don’t know what to do now. Many of them had taken leave from office to stand in long queues to procure the forms, get the verification done and then frantically check the result sheets for their wards’ name. Now everything will start from scratch. More so, those who had managed to get their wards admitted had also submitted the fees. We still don’t know if they will get it back.”

Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales School (Pusa Road) and chairperson, National Progressive Schools Conference insists the schools are the worst sufferers in this confusion. “Can you imagine my plight at the moment? Board exams are going on and I have to scramble for staff to take care of the nursery admission process too. This was bound to happen as no one listens to us at the time of
policy framing.”

“There was no need for the extra five points to inter-state transfer cases and rather the 70 points given under neighbourhood quota (the school lying within 8 km radius of the school) should have been staggered by way of 30 points for 0-3 km, 20 points for 3-6 km, till 10 km at least. Private schools are not equally distributed across Delhi. Some areas like south and west Delhi have very good schools, while others like north and east have barely any.”

A group of parents have now, in fact, petitioned the Lt Governor to remove even the sibling and alumni categories which provide 20 and five points to a child respectively. “If you look at the mathematics of it carefully, only those with a child already in school, or who have themselves studied in Delhi, are now being able to get a seat. What crime have first-time parents, or those who studied outside Delhi, done to deserve this?” asks Sudhanshu Jain, a parent.

Educationists like former CBSE chief Ashok Ganguly, however, point out that there is no solution to this imbroglio till more schools are set up in the city or at least the existing government schools start nursery wings. “It is, essentially, a problem of mismatched demand and supply. There are just about 900 schools with roughly 1.25 lakh seats,while the number of unique applicants each year exceeds 1.3 lakh. Where are the other children supposed to go? The root of this problem has to be addressed. Or else, there is
no relief.”

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