WHAT THE COURT SAYS
* No admission test or interview of the child or parent
* Number of seats available should be clearly indicated
* Admission can be based on various criteria
* Classrooms should not be cramped
* Schools must maintain healthy teacher–pupil ratio
* Adequate and proper toilet facilities
* Adequate space for sporting activities
* Schools should have a child–friendly atmosphere
* Fees to be paid should be disclosed at the time of disclosing the admission schedule.
* District Level Grievance Redressal Committee has to be constituted.
In these days of competition, tender minds even in pre–primary schools often become the victims of different types of pressure. Parents also face hurdles while admitting their children to institutions of their choice. Complaints are often being raised that pre–primary schools, from posh to mediocre, don’t provide the facilities they claim before admission and sometimes tactfully conceal vital information which parents must know at the time of admission.
Realising the plight of children and their parents, the division bench of Gauhati High Court, comprising Chief Justice KS Rao and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, delivered an important judgement issuing number of directions regulating admission to all schools in the State imparting pre–primary education from the calender year 2015. The HC judgement is based on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Children Welfare Association, a non–governmental organisation (NGO).
The PIL highlighted various issues confronting pre–primary/pre–elementary education in Assam, more particularly, the issue relating to admission. The problem is more acute in unaided private schools across the State.
The PIL alleged that such schools have mushroomed all over the State without adhering to any objective and their primary purpose is to make nursery/KG education a totally commercial proposition. On many occasions, parents are not informed about the admission criteria and high fees are charged from them, the PIL added.
The NGO has also sought a direction from the HC to lay down guidelines for private schools and other educational institutions to formulate their admission criteria and disclose the same to the guardians to ensure transparency and eliminate discrimination.
The High Court, in its directions, says, “There shall be a transparent and non–discriminatory admission procedure which shall be notified by the respective schools and shall be made known to the parents/guardians seeking admission of their children, well in advance. It should be displayed prominently in the school notice board or in any prominent place within the school premises or in the prospectus or in the form of printed rules/norms of the school concerned or by way of advertisement.”
“In case the number of applicants is more than the number of notified seats, a transparent and non–discriminatory admission procedure should be adopted and applied, which should be notified well in advance in terms of direction,” the HC adds.
The admission procedure can be based on various criteria, such as first–come–first serve basis; giving more importance to children residing near the school; sibling of an existing student may be given preference; and a girl child or a child of a single parent may be given additional weightage. Similarly, specially–abled children may also be given additional importance. However, the admission criteria should be placed in the public domain, the court states.
There shall be no admission test or interview of the child. Likewise, there shall be no interview of the parent/guardian to assess the suitability of the child. In other words, there shall be no screening or profiling of the child as well as of the parent/guardian.
“Schools should maintain a healthy teacher–pupil ratio. Classrooms should not be cramped. Schools should have adequate and proper toilet facilities and also adequate space for sporting activities. Moreover, the school should have a child friendly ambience.”
The fees to be paid by the parent/guardian including admission fee, tuition fee etc. should be disclosed at the time of displaying the admission schedule, the HC states.
The Education (Elementary) Department in consultation with the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights constituted under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 should constitute district level grievance redressal committees to look into any grievance of a parent/guardian relating to admission of their child in a pre–primary school.
The HC made it clear that the above directions shall be applicable to all schools in the State imparting pre–primary education. “It should be the responsibility of the Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Assam, Education (Elementary) Department to ensure its compliance and implementation,” the HC adds.
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