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The distance between a child’s home and his prospective school could be the biggest criterion for nursery school admissions in Delhi this time around.
The Delhi government has drawn up draft guidelines for nursery admissions, which say that every school will have to give highest priority to the ‘neighbourhood’ category during admissions, sources said. This means that the children who stay closest to the school will be prioritised during the admission process.
Sources said the file has already been sent to L-G Najeeb Jung, and since he is also in favour of an overhaul in the admission process, both could find a common ground.
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Earlier this year, a petition was filed in the Delhi High Court claiming that neighbourhood should be made an important factor in deciding where a child goes to school.
The petition, which is still being heard, says the land lease document that schools had signed with land-owning authorities states that schools will serve children of the neighbourhood first and will, in no way, deny them admission.
According to the petition, in the case of some schools (in the allotment letter), it has been mentioned that the school shall admit at least 75 per cent of the students from the same locality.
The government’s guidelines are based on the points made in the petition, a source said.
The admission process in nursery schools in the city is highly competitive. Close to 1.5 lakh seats are up for grabs in over 2,000 schools for around 1.6 lakh unique applicants. Competition is stiff for the top 50 schools, though demand for seats in lesser-known schools is low.
Schools set several categories such as neighbourhood, sibling in same school, alumni, etc. Twenty per cent of the seats, meanwhile, are filled as per the management’s discretion.
Over the past three years, the Delhi government has tried to set stringent admission criteria for schools, only to be rebuffed by the courts.
This includes the L-G’s decision to scrap management quota for the 2014-15 session and allotment of 70 per cent points to the neighbourhood criterion.
Last year, the Delhi government also ordered an end to the management quota and scrapped the 62 criteria — such as food habits, sex of the child, parents background — that schools had collectively set for admission, but the move was stalled by the Delhi High Court both times.
“The chief minister is taking personal interest in the matter and the government is keen on widespread reform in the criteria as it gets a number of complaints from parents each year regarding unfair admission criteria, corruption, and hardship. Over the years, several legal experts have stated that admissions should be done on the basis of the distance between a child’s home and school. The government has kept this in mind,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.