Are you prepared to go over to the dark side?
Fake addresses, marital status and even children?
Because this is what you may have to do if you are of the tribe of nursery admission warriors — parents battling to place their tot in the school with the right pedigree.
With admissions following a point system — where candidates are awarded points on basis of proximity of location, record of older children studying in the school, and being single parents, among others — the race to notch up the marks gets bloodier and murkier every year.
“It is an open secret that some parents get fake address proof in south Delhi to get phone connections and get admission on basis of that,” a parent comments on admissionursery.com, a website that discusses nursery admission-related queries.
The point system was adopted in 2007 as per the recommendations of the Ganguly Committee, in a bid to regulate pre-primary admissions.
As the curtain lifts on admission season by mid-December, the sticky issue is set to assume centre stage.
“Parents often take a cellphone connection on an address which is near the school and then use the bill to take admission,” said the principal of a premier south Delhi school.
It is not just addresses parents fake, but offspring as well.
“Parents pass off a cousin studying in the same school as a sibling, to get the points allotted if a sibling of the candidate is studying in the school,” said Jyoti Bose, principal of Springdales, Dhaula Kuan.
Parents say they feel disadvantaged by the point system.
“Last year I had applied in Delhi schools for my son but failed to secure a seat. I lost out on sibling points and also the extra points given to girl child,” said Shanti Sriniwas (name changed), a bank employee.
Sriniwas was undergoing a divorce then and hoped to earn points as a single parent — offered by some schools — but could not, as her divorce was not through.
One of the principals told her: “You have to submit a document stating you are a single parent. We have come across a lot of cases where the parents lie (about their marital status).”
Shrinivas relocated to Chennai and got her son admitted to a school there.
Then of course there is the lure of the south.
Most parents think neighbourhood schools are simply not good enough.
“I stay in Rajouri Garden but I want my daughter to study in Sanskriti or DPS R.K. Puram (in south Delhi). It is a matter of 14 years of education, it has to be from the best school," said Lalita Tyagi (name changed), mother of a three-year-old.
“The perception is that most good schools are located in south Delhi,” said Sumit Vohra, a parent who runs the portal admissionsnursery.com.
“So people from as far as Rajinder Nagar and Shalimar Bagh in west Delhi apply to schools here."
The distance between DPS RK Puram and Shalimar Bagh? Over 25 km.
The short arm of the law
Can parents be prosecuted in India if they get caught cheating?
India can perhaps take a cue from the UK. According to a recent report in The Guardian, authorities are planning to introduce stringent laws for parents, who can be prosecuted if they cheat to get a place for their children at schools. At the moment, like in India, parents only risk losing a seat at the school in the UK.
“I have heard parents resort to such measures,” said Arvinder Singh Lovely, Delhi's Education Minister.
“But as far as criminal action against parents is concerned, we do not have any provision right now. The only thing schools can do in such instances of deception is to cancel the seats.”