Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

Chaos, controversy over nursery admission test patience of parents

Parents queue up for nursery admission forms at a city school. (Express Archive) Parents queue up for nursery admission forms at a city school. (Express Archive)
Written by Shikha Sharma | New Delhi | Posted: March 17, 2014 12:59 am | Updated: March 17, 2014 1:11 am

What set the nursery admission season this year apart from past years was the unprecedented participation of parents in the litigation process. As the admission season drags on, dissatisfaction over the new guidelines remains. While schools blame the ‘government’s tyrannical approach’ for the confusion, the latter blames ‘vested interests for creating hurdles in the way of implementation of a common, fair policy’. SHIKHA SHARMA & Ujala Chowdhry report

It has been a particularly tumultuous time for parents seeking nursery admission for their children this year. A completely new set of rules — and ensuing litigation on its different aspects, first by schools and then by various sets of parents — meant that the admission process saw more chaos and controversy than ever before. As the admission season drags on, dissatisfaction over the new guidelines remain. While schools blame the “government’s tyrannical approach” for the confusion, the government blames “vested interests for creating hurdles for implementation of a common, fair policy”.

“When fresh nursery guidelines were announced in December 2013, everyone appreciated the new guidelines, except the private schools — which was understandable since the guidelines quashed management quota. But then, different sets of aggrieved parents started going to court. While some had genuine concerns, there were also a lot of vested interests. So, the process, engulfed in litigation, kept delaying itself till we reached where we are now,” Padmini Singla, Director, Directorate of Education, said.

According to Singla, “excessive litigation, so close to dates of admission, coupled with anxious parents looking to get their children ‘admitted in the top 50 schools in the city’ compounded the problem”.

This year, Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung made radical changes to nursery admission guidelines, completely taking away schools’ discretionary powers and setting up a uniform point system — one which gave maximum emphasis to neighbourhood, besides allotting points for sibling, alumni and inter-transfer cases.

“Till last year, every school had its own criteria. This year, we formed a common criteria. It was totally new. Anything new takes time to settle with the public. That time was very less, leading to confusion and chaos amongst parents. That said, the guidelines were made with the right intentions and are an improvement over the arbitrary point system schools were subjecting parents to,” she said.

However, the schools disagree — blaming failure on the part of the government to consult all stakeholders for the chaos instead. “The government cannot take major policy decisions on its own. It should have consulted the advisory board, school bodies and academicians before coming out with a decision. These guidelines are against the principle of autonomy, under which unaided private schools have been given the power by the central government to formulate their own admission criteria for 75 per cent of the seats. The government’s thoughtless decisions have brought us to the position we continued…

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