This is the fourth part of 5 part series on Delhi Education System and our 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)
The third part of the series can be found here. Nursery Admissions: Quest for Delhi Dwellers (Part 3)
Things became more worrisome for us post Diwali of 2020. The notification of commencement of Nursery admissions with full details of the schedule, process and compliance requirement is published by Directorate of Education, Government of Delhi. Typically, this notification comes towards the end of November and the overall process concludes around third week of January.
With lot of anticipation, we as parents started looking forward to the notification. We eagerly opened the newspaper on November 22nd, 2020 and scanned through each page.
New threat of Corona virus spread in the city after violation of norms during the festive season.
Fresh spell of snow in Kashmir and Himachal lead to record low temperatures in Delhi.
Kejriwal denounces new farm laws enacted by the Government of India.
Consumer spending boom during festival season.
These and many more news headlines and supporting content captured the real estate of their subscribed newspapers but there was nothing on the Nursery school admissions.
Thinking it might come the next day. We repeated the same sequence on Tuesday. Outcome was again nothing.
Then again on Wednesday, Thursday and finally on Friday.
Assuming that it might have been delayed by a week, we eagerly waited for our newspaper vendor to drop the newspaper on Monday November 29, 2020. Another set of scanning through the newspaper yielded nothing.
This went on for a couple of days. Fearing that we may have missed the notification, we frantically searched on Google about any news on the subject.
Outcome again was nothing.
We even went to our target nearby school to inquire if the admissions have begun. The security guard on the gate informed us that even school is waiting for the notification from the Government of Delhi.
Convinced that the process has not been initiated yet, we carried on with our day-to-day work and business activities.
Right before Christmas, a Delhi Government official told the local media that Delhi Government was planning to scrap the nursery admissions. The statement was backed with the logic that most of the nursery classes in the session of 2020-21 were held online. Since this particular year of education is more about interacting with others, the online method perhaps was not that effective. Hence it made sense to completely remove the nursery class from the academic year 2021-22 and induct these kids in the pre-school (also known as Kindergarten). The argument further goes that there will be no loss as there is nothing to catch up with at this age.
As parents, we assumed that if the experts in the field are stating so, it must be an acceptable thing and went on with our lives as usual.
But there were many who didn’t see it this way. Multiple schools and existing parent associations denounced the statement citing that such a move will affect all the stakeholders adversely. The common argument being that these kids did not have the exposure of a play school and if we now cancel the nursery admissions, it will be very difficult for these kids to cope up with the social settings on a school when they join in per-school.
In the back of our minds, as parents, we also felt the need for the child to have more exposure to social gatherings in a controlled environment of a school so that he can groom into a fine gentleman. Certainly, this news was something that was bothering us but we still did not debate internally with our own views on the topic.
Leaving things for the heavenly powers to decide, we celebrated Yuvaan’s third birthday in a low key event but compensated with extra gifts for him.
In the meantime, a set of stakeholders filed a public interest litigation seeking cancellation of the nursery admissions in the academic year of 2021-22, based on the Covid-19 situation in the world. The Government of Delhi in its response cited that there is no plan to scrap the plan. It has been delayed due to the pandemic situation and that it would take the input from the petitioners into consideration while making a decision.
Around the same time, we went to meet some of our friends in mid-January 2021, while maintaining the pandemic protocol. During our meeting, the topic of nursery admissions came and we discussed the current approach of ‘wait and watch’ for the notification from the Government of Delhi. Some of our learned friends advised otherwise.
“Why make Yuvaan lose out a year of education?” one said.
“Enrol him into any good school in Gurgaon or Noida. He doesn’t have to come to the school premises physically anyway. By the time, pandemic subsides, Yuvaan would not have any break in his schooling.”
This view gave new mojo to the school hunt for us. We decided to contact schools in Gurgaon. Noida being much further away, distance wise, didn’t fit in our overall scheme of things. We started writing to the popular ones. Shiv Nadar School, DPS, Amity and many more. Most of the schools reverted that the admissions are closed now. However, one of them reverted citing that they would like to interview the parents and the ward before taking any decision. They also sent link to an admission form where we were asked to fill in multiple details.
Details such as our age, educational qualifications, nature of occupation and salaries were regular inputs that the schools form sought. In addition, there were questions that were difficult and tricky to respond to.
“What values other than the academics will your child bring the school in line with the school’s credo?”
We wondered what could Yuvaan take to school. He is only 3 years old and can barely speak a sentence fluently. It took us half a day to decipher this question and another half to come up with an answer. We finally wrote something about virtues like self-discipline, minimalism and spiritualism. It was surprising that we were forced to think beyond their usual selves to make Yuvaan look good in the application form.
Few days after the submission of the form with a fee of Rs 300/- only, we were contacted by the school for a virtual interview. The school official insisted that both the parents should be there and that Yuvaan should be dressed properly for the interview. Initially, we were irked by the school’s use of word ‘properly’. However, they didn’t contest much.
Anyway, the day arrived and we eagerly sat down in front of their laptop and logged into the Microsoft Teams room as was shared by the school. 5 minutes passed, then 10 and then 15, finally the school official called me on my phone and informed me that there is a delay as there was a technical glitch in the current interview. Before closing the call, the official reiterated – “Please make sure that Yuvaan is dressed up properly.” Desperate to get my son admitted to the coveted school, I simply responded, “Absolutely!”.
Finally, we could hear some voices in the Microsoft Teams room and the school panel arrived. However, the long wait in the lobby, completely disengaged Yuvaan and he was more interested in his toy stack in the room than the interview. The meeting started with the Chairperson of the panel (and the school board) asking Yuvaan about his name. As expected, he ignored the prompt. She persisted with a follow up question, asking him to tell what is the colour of his father’s shirt. This caught his attention and immediately came the answer ‘Ellow’.
The school admissions panel then quizzed us on how do we go about taking care of Yuvaan.
‘How much time do you spend with him in a day?’
‘What do you mean by success for him in his life?’
‘How much does the father pay attention to Yuvaan’s activities?’
And so on…
The interaction lasted for around 25 minutes. We handled the questions fairly well. Yuvaan on the other hand preferred to stay behind the laptop screen. At times, he spun the chair on which his father was seated. He also peeped through a couple of times, just to distract the panelists from their discussion with us.
Confident that Yuvaan would make through the interview, we along with my parents started discussing about the logistics for Yuvaan’s schooling in case he is to complete his nursery there.
“Let’s get a driver”, my mother opined. “I shall go and drop him in the morning and bring him back, once the schools open after Corona.”
“It would have been better had he got admission in a school close by. I could have dropped him and picked him every day”, wondered my father.
“We will see once the school opens post pandemic”, my wife retorted.
A few days later the school principal sent the email congratulating us for Yuvaan’s ‘selection’ in the Nursery section there and also shared details for payment of Rs. 80,000/-.
However, by then the Delhi Government had made its intention to kick-off the nursery school admission process, public. So we decided against pursuing the Gurgaon school admission any further.
Within a week from then, the announcement of Nursery school admissions process kick-off came from Delhi Government. Almost entire process was to be done online. Parents could go to the website of the school of their choice. Fill up the online form. Pay the fee and then wait for the next steps.
On 18th Feb, 2021, I woke up really early. I was very excited with the thought that Yuvaan would soon be entering formal education. I felt that I was on the pilot’s seat for the career that was going to be launched for Yuvaan with this first action. I thought that I was scripting the destiny of my child. I thought that these first steps would enable Yuvaan to make a dent in the Universe. Consequently, I felt a rush of adrenaline in my body. I wanted to do everything right in this go. Nothing should come in the way of my child’s success, I thought.
Till that point I had only heard about the point system in the admission process. My wife and I had learned about the process followed by some of the schools from online resources. The point system is the outcome of the zoning that the Ganguly committee recommended and was adopted on the orders of the Honorable Delhi High Court.
I was about to have my first encounter with the points system.