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This is the third part of 5 part series on Delhi Education System and out own personal experience with it in the academic year that started in April 2021.
The first part of the series can be found here. Nursery Admissions: Quest for Delhi Dwellers (Part 1)
The second part of the series can be found here. Nursery Admissions: Quest for Delhi Dwellers (Part 2)
A non-government organization ‘Social Jurist’ took up the cause of nursery admission and education at pre-school level as a subject of discussion and debate. Their primary contention was the lack of proper definition of a nursery or pre-school leading to children even below the age of 4 years making it to class 1st. It needs to be noted here that over the years, the bone of contention has always been the age of entry for Class 1st with the primary concern being that formal education should not start for a child before the age of 5 years.
This led to the landmark decision of the Delhi High Court wherein it constituted the Ganguly committee in 2006. A small group of eminent educationists under the aegis of the then CBSE Chairman Shri Ashok Ganguly, submitted their report to the Delhi High Court as requested by the court.
Multiple landmark recommendations were made in the report. The key and relevant ones have been highlighted below –
- Any formal education should be started from the Class 1. There would be a pre-school class. That’s the educationist recommendation. However, in lieu of other societal and parental concerns especially for the ones who are both working parents, two years of pre-school is prescribed. In some cases, recommendations for a creche are also made.
- Zoning of the neighborhoods in Delhi so that there is equitable distribution of quality schools.
- It was a strong observation of the committee that school’s mushrooming is a big issue. Paraphrasing the words of the committee, it’s easier to setup a school in the vacant land available in South Delhi than to setup a mall.
- Consequently, there is a lot of inconsistency in the quality of schools in Delhi.
- The committee so recommended providing a neighborhood constraint to the school with the virtue of distance of child’s home from the school. This is commonly known as zoning
- The class prior to class 1 was also named as preparatory or pre-primary and the one before it as pre-school.
To make the education more equitable and accessible to all, irrespective of whether the schools are government funded or unaided educational institutes, the Right to Education (RTE) act mandates a quota of 25% seats for Economically Weaker Section (EWS), with the exception of minority institutes that are exempted from RTE. Primarily, the intention was to provide access to unaided private educational institution’s infrastructure along with aid to students from this section of the society as well. The intention is to accelerate the coverage while we come to the point when government and other municipality schools measure up in terms of performance and facilities.
There are strong rumours though that people doing reasonably well in their lives have also devised creative methods to obtain the EWS certificate from competent authority. The Bollywood movie ‘English Medium’ rightly pointed out to this ‘route’ of parents to admit their kids to the top schools in Delhi.
The next major change was brought in 2016. With a new government in National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, the concept of ‘management seats’ which was typically kept as 20% of the overall number of seats became a sticking point. The new Government wanted to abolish the management quota and open the entire 75% seats (remaining 25% reserved for the EWS category) to the general category and so through the points system.
The Deputy Chief Minister in his statement in the court, in context of the zoning of educational institutions, compared the work done by private institutes with the contracting firms doing civil works for the government. In his argument, he emphasized that since these institutes use the land allocated by the government, so they are no better than any contractor who can be asked to leave anytime. Obviously, this naïve comparison didn’t go down well with the private unaided institutions. This was contested heavily in the court and the court decided to maintain the status quo i.e. 20% of seats as management quota for the time being.
Thanks to all the great efforts from various individuals and institutions, the nursery admissions process puts a lot of pressure on the average Joe, who neither has the EWS certificate nor the deep pockets to participate in the auction of the management seats.
Quite obviously, Yuvaan’s parents were also worried about his admissions given the complications of the whole process. Within a couple of kilometers from their current residence, there were a few popular options. This gave them some relief and they assumed that it would be a smooth ride for their son.
The ride was about to begin.