The more than three-month-long race for nursery admission in the city’s private schools begins on Saturday, with schools Friday publishing criteria and making forms available.
With the process beginning two weeks earlier than it had last year, Friday was the last date for the city’s 1,600-odd government recognised private schools to make public criteria for admission to nursery, kindergarten and Class I.
Apart from 25% of total seats which schools are mandated to reserve for children from the economically weaker sections (EWS)/disadvantaged groups (DG) category, schools can select a set of criteria against which they allot a specific number of points to each applicant.
Bone of contention between schools and Delhi govt
The flexibility of private schools in adopting criteria for allotting points has been a point of tussle between the state and schools for a long time. While hearing a petition against a 2016 government order to abolish 62 criteria deemed unreasonable and to do away all quotas apart from the 25% seats reserved for EWS/DG students, the High Court observed that “promoters of a school who make investment at their own personal risk are fully entitled to full autonomy in administration, including right to admit students”. Following a partial stay, the government has issued a list of 50 disallowed criteria, including parents’ education, oral test, interview, both parents working, management discretion, first-come-first-get and parents’ profession.
The primary criteria against which most schools will be allotting points is the proximity of the applicant’s home — with points varying from 30 in Vasant Valley School to 70 in Bluebells International School. Prominent schools like Mother’s International School and Ahlcon International School have provided lists of localities around them, and points allotted for each. Most others have listed points based on distance. For instance, DPS RK Puram offers 40 points for 0-3 km, 35 for 3-6, 30 for 6-8 and 25 for 8-15.
Apart from this, the most common criteria are parents being alumni of the school and the applicant having siblings studying there.
Most prominent private schools have also reserved 20% of their total seats under management quota. The Directorate of Education had attempted to prohibit this through an order in 2016, but this was stayed by the High Court. A number of these schools have reserved an additional 5% of total seats under the heading ‘staff quota’. However, Director of Education Sanjay Goel told The Indian Express that the 20% management quota should encompass all such seats reserved for wards of staff, and schools should not be putting in place a reserved category over and above it.
Additional criteria selected by different schools include the applicant being a first-born, a single child, a girl, legally adopted or having a single parent. Schools are free to select the criteria, but the Directorate’s guidelines include a list of disallowed criteria found to be ‘unfair, unreasonable and non-transparent’.
Vasant Valley School allots points if the parents have achievements in sports, arts, research, social service or have received awards — with varying points for state, national and international level. According to the Directorate, ‘professional field/expertise’ is among criteria not to be adopted by schools. School authorities could not be reached for a comment. Mahavir Model Senior School has adopted vegetarianism and non-smoker parents as criteria, both of which are disallowed.
According to officials in the Directorate, the criteria will be reviewed soon. “Since Friday was the last day given to schools to upload the criteria, by Saturday evening we will collect all information and see if there remains any school which has not done so, and also review if there is any school which has adopted restrictive criteria which we have disallowed in our guidelines,” said Goel.