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Home > Media Room > SCC in News

Admission impossible for first-timers

Chinki Sinha, Indian Express, 02 February 2010

The 10 children on the pre-school admission’s waitlist at the Mother’s International School have all scored on either sibling or alumni points. But have missed out on the distance.

At Mother’s International, the cut is simple — 30 points each for alumni and sibling, and 40 points for the distance. With a cut-off of 55, it is imperative that one of the top two criteria is achieved, parents said. It is the same at a class higher, the pre-primary.

A parent who did not wish to be named said: “This is like preserving a dynasty, keeping out the rest of us who want to get into these schools but can’t because we are seen as upstarts or first-timers.”

Of the 35 who made it this year to the nursery, all have either a sibling in the school, or a parent who studied there, or both as in the case of six children.

This is exactly what parents are agitated about. Those who sought admission for their firstborn and are not an alumnus could not get through.

At Birla Niketan School, Pushp Vihar too, the same story was repeated.

Last year at Springdales School, Pusa Road, a majority of the 77 parents shortlisted for the verification of documents were either the alumni (20 points) or got points for a sibling (another 20 points). This year, the school is following the same points system as last year.

Many parents who don’t score in either of the categories said the points system had been manipulated, and so had the spirit of the Ashok Ganguly Commission that was “an attempt to regularise the chaotic admissions process in the city’s private and unaided schools”.

For schools, it is an age-old argument that they have been granted autonomy by the courts and can frame their own points keeping the broader parameters in view.

Some schools that announced their first list on Monday flouted guidelines prescribed by the Directorate of Education (DoE), which had asked them to clearly display the break-up of points. The DoE had also sent notices to schools not to allocate points on parents’ qualification.

Parents have also complained that despite making the cut on qualification, schools have chosen the children of those who have graduated out of the most elite institution in that profession. Alumnis of IITs, IIMs and top IAS officers have been preferred.

Start ranking schools
It’s a supply and demand equation. There are very few schools in the city. The government should do everything it can to come up with more schools and make it easier for private players to set up schools. They should also start rating the schools. You now have schools mushrooming everywhere. Instead of the government threatening to derecognise schools that flout norms, they should rank them. The system will eventually become more transparent because the reputation of schools will be at stake. Punishment will be in the form of rankings. The nursery admissions are being monopolised by certain schools. Let us face the reality. Let us have more schools and let us recognise schools as profit-making institutions rather than calling them non-profit and turning a blind eye to the corruption and the bribes these school authorities take.
Baladevan R, educationist, associated with School Choice Campaign, an advocacy group for reforms in school educacation

Focus on schools in neighbourhood
The kind of schools that parents are running after represent only 5 per cent of India ‘s children. These are very expensive institutions that charge high fees. They are education shops. In the recent past, there has been some relief through the High Court’s and the Supreme Court’s decisions but that’s not enough. The Ganguly Committee was an attempt but it had to compromise because the school lobby is very strong. Unless a pre-primary school in a locality is declared a ‘neighbourhood school’, there is no reasonable hope of ensuring pre-primary education for all. In Mumbai, in the late 1990s, there was an attempt to make the state government declare these expensive schools ‘neighbourhood schools’. The Vidhan Sabha passed the Act, and the Governor had to sign it. But the Governor could not because the school lobby turned out to be powerful. If the lobby could undo the political will of the state Vidhan Sabha, then Ganguly committee did not stand a chance. As long as some leeway is given to the pre-primary lobby, even the High Court decisions will be nullified.
Anil Sadgopal, noted educationist and member of the All India Forum for Right to Education

Parents should complain
The schools can’t do what they want. I said they should not award points on the basis of parents’ qualifications. They aren’t supposed to do that, but it’s something they have been doing. We are taking action. We have sent them notices and forced a few to change their parameters. We even tried to regulate the schedule and have been successful. Schools have been unfair and we want to ensure fairness. But we want parents to complain and come forward. We can’t inspect all 2,000 schools. We need help from them.
Arvinder Singh Lovely, Education Minister

Read the story in Indian Express



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