The relaxation of the upper-age limit for entry-level admissions under the EWS/DG category in private schools is not a permanent measure, with the education department looking to waive it after “greater awareness” has been created.
In the recently published admission guidelines for EWS/DG and children with special needs, the Directorate of Education (DoE) stated that the age limit of previous years will continue for this cycle as well — five for nursery, six for KG and seven for Class I.
According to a DoE official, the decision was taken keeping in mind the aim of the benefits of education reaching the maximum number of people.
“In cases of guardians of these applicants, the level of awareness and planning is considerably lower than with general category parents. Given that the benefit of EWS/DG admission does not exist beyond entry-level classes in private schools, missing the age limit could prove extremely costly. There is no point of reserved seats falling vacant… So, we’ve decided to go with the existing age limits for another year. This is not permanent, the aim is to eventually impose the new limits for them as well — after information on it has is more widely known,” the official said.
The issue of imposing an upper-age limit to admissions, especially at the entry-level, has always been contentious. Advocates of the move have said that age-appropriate classrooms are crucial for a child’s growth, but in areas where awareness is low, it serves as an exclusionary move. Several educationists believe that while age-appropriate classrooms are crucial, they must be clubbed with bridge classes to get all children to a similar level.
In the 2019-2020 nursery, KG and Class I admission cycle, tighter upper-age limits — four for nursery, five for KG and six for class I — have been imposed for the first time on children applying to open seats in private schools.
These age limits had first been announced by the department through a circular in December 2015, which was challenged by many petitions in the Delhi High Court. The court granted a stay in February 2016, owing to the lack of intimation. The stay order operated for admission cycles 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. Citing the need to provide guardians an adequate notice period to prepare for admissions, the department had ordered that the limits would be put in force from 2019-2020.
According to the official, the rationale for imposing an age limit is because at these young ages, the physical and mental development of children varies greatly: “You cannot make a three-year-old and a five-year-old sit in the same classroom. Their learning abilities will differ greatly due to difference in mental development. Further, the physical differences also raise the problem of smaller children being beaten up. At such small ages where differences are stark, there is a need to compartmentalise.”