Private schools of the Capital were in for a major relief on Friday with the Supreme Court granting them more autonomy in conducting admissions. They have been allowed to conduct informal interaction with the parents of children seeking admission in pre-primary classes.
This interaction can take place any time, even before the admission process is over. So schools will now be at liberty to make it as one of the parameters for the admission of children.
Earlier, as per the Delhi High Court order, schools could interact with parents only for the purpose of verification of documents — that too after the admission is over.
The Supreme Court further ruled that schools are also not obliged to follow a common schedule for admission fixed by the Delhi government; nor do they have to take a prior approval from the education department for fixing the parameters of admissions. Schools who do not want to follow the schedule fixed by the government can formulate one but have to inform the education department within a week. Later, they have to put up the details on a notice board or on their websites. Although the order is temporary, it will benefit the schools preparing for admission process that is going to start soon for the academic year 2007-08.
The schools, however, suffered a setback when the bench, headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, refused to entertain their plea that three-year-olds be admitted in kindergarten classes. The bench made it clear that kindergarten cannot be feeder schools because children at that age require informal education. "Why don't you start a crèche in school and register children immediately after their birth," the bench asked the schools.
Parents got a respite when senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the schools, assured the court that the schools would refund the fees in case they withdraw their child's admission.
The interim reprieve to the schools came not before the bench took a dig at private schools.
Accusing the schools of accepting heavy donations from parents, the bench said, "… why do you want these interactive sessions with them (parents). What more do you want to know about their background except for how much they earn and what are their qualifications. Do you want to know whether the child is black or white, rich or poor?"
The bench also warned the schools that they should not become commercial establishments. It said: "The problem with the schools is that they think children are for them. It is, however, vice-versa." While issuing notice to Social Jurist, the NGO on whose petition the high court had passed the order, the bench was forced to pass a slew of concessions for the schools after Salve said the government order was illegal as it flouted the rules framed under the Act governing education system in Delhi.
Salve said it was a Parliamentary Act and an executive order cannot over-reach it. The advocate further said that the Act did not prohibit schools from holding interactive sessions with the parents or children.
He stressed the need for interaction as private schools, according to him, are entitled to enjoy autonomy and are not State run schools.