The fate of four-year-old Rishab Chugh, who applied for admission to nursery under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category, hangs in balance. He was one of the successful candidates in the admission lottery organised by one of the most prestigious city schools two days back. But the school is yet to release the list of names. Now his parents are unsure whether he will actually get to attend this school when the session starts two months later.
Their concern stems from Delhi High Court's order on Tuesday directing schools to revise the admission criteria for the EWS category.
Most city schools released their first list for the general category on Wednesday, but held back the list of successful candidates under the EWS category. The court order stated any student under EWS category living within one kilometer of the school has to be given first preference. Second preference is to be given to those living within one to three kilometres, third to those living within three to six kilometers and finally to those living beyond six kilometers.
Schools are unsure whether to cancel the draw of lots or start the process all over again. Many schools have written to the government's directorate of education for clarity. In the meantime, they have decided not to release the EWS list.
"We haven't even put the list of selected candidates on the website because it will amount to contempt of court. We are awaiting the government's decision. But of the total 26 students we have selected under the category, hardly seven of them belong to slum clusters within one kilometer. We conducted the lottery in front of 3,000 people and it is extremely humiliating to dampen the hopes of parents whose kids have made it," said Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales School (Pusa Road).
Parents, in the meantime, remain agitated. "We have a lot of hopes and it is with great difficulty that our child has made it to such a good school. Now if schools start revising this decision, we might lose out," said Neeraj Chugh, Rishab's father. Several other families voiced similar concerns.
"If my daughter is disqualified due to the court's decision, where will we go? Government policies and decisions are alien to us. All that matters to us is our child's education," said Kamla Ujjainwal, who serves as part-time domestic help and whose daughter Swetha has also made it through the EWS category.
However, the government has not offered any conclusive response on the issue, claiming that the court order is in tandem with the government's policies.
"The High Court's order just reaffirms our policy. Most of the schools have more or less abided by the guidelines. For some of the schools that have recently held their EWS draw, we will conduct a meeting in a couple of days with the department of education and decide what is to be done," said Arvinder Singh, Education Minister.