Former CBSE chairman and head of a high court-appointed panel on nursery admissions, Ashok Ganguly, talks to HT about why the problems continue. Excerpts:
It has been eight years since a committee you headed gave its recommendations on nursery admissions. But every year parents suffer due to changing guidelines. Why does the mess exist?
When there is a will, there is a way. The mess exists because neither party is serious about implementing the earlier recommendations properly or modifying them appropriately to suit the needs of the current time. Pre-primary education is still unregulated and unless there are clear guidelines, the mess will continue.
What needs to be fixed to make the admission process transparent and uniform for all applicants?
There should be clear guidelines based on the recommendations. If there is any modification required, that can be made. But guidelines should be objective and based on numerical score so that it is clear and transparent. There should have a fixed time frame for the admission process.
What role should the government play in ensuring the admissions are conducted on uniform and non-discriminatory guidelines?
There is lot of commercialisation and commodification of all aspects of pre-primary education, including fees, textbooks and recruitment process. It is time to bring pre-primary education under a regulatory framework so that it is applicable uniformly across India.
In context of the Right to Education law, should there be a re-look at how nursery admissions are done?
There is no provision of pre-primary education in RTE. It will be an easier course of action to bring pre-primary education, which takes care of children between 3 and 6 years, under RTE. If amended suitably this can be made applicable to the entire country and can cover issues such as admission process, teacher recruitment and curriculum.
How do we avoid the conflict between government and private schools due to which sometimes admissions have been delayed?
The conflict exists because private players might be asking for some say in admission. That’s why the earlier recommendation allotted 15% quota to the private schools. The government can look at how much management quota should be there. A certain percentage, if given, may reduce the conflict.
This year the Delhi government has said around 285 schools on DDA land will have neighbourhood as the only criteria.
Delhi has not been planned in a way that every area has a uniform concentration of schools. So, if neighbourhood is the sole criterion, this will not do justice to parents living in areas with low concentration of schools. Parents in such areas must get some access so that they can put their kids in schools outside their neighbourhood. Besides, more parameters must be added so that the process becomes selective and not eliminative.