Chaos hit nursery admissions underway in Delhi with the government on Wednesday ordering schools to scrap the 20% management quota and allotment of points on the basis of ‘discriminatory’ criteria such as food habits and professions of parents.
Calling it an attack on their ‘autonomy’, several schools threatened to go to court against the order, a move that could delay admissions. Parents could also be in for fresh trouble since schools will have to readjust their points and release a set of new criteria.
An earlier decision by the government to fix upper age limits for entry-level classes has already been challenged in the Delhi high court by a two-year-old child — and a fresh round of litigation now seems inevitable.
“There will be no management quota for nursery admission. Management quota is the biggest scam in India. It is just a way to loot money,” chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said at a press conference, ordering all private recognised unaided schools to do away with the quota that allows institutions to allot 20% of their seats at their discretion.
The government also released a list of 62 criteria it considered ‘discriminatory’, ordering these be scrapped.
Kejriwal said schools that flouted the order would be “de-recognised or taken over by the government”. But he also said the order did not take away the schools’ freedom to set their own criteria.
This is how it may work: While the crackdown on ‘discriminatory’ criteria theoretically does away with the 5% staff quota most schools offer employees’ children, they can still allot points in this category by another name.
And, since the government order does not govern minority schools (both linguistic and religious), some ‘discriminatory’ criteria such as food habits and points for ‘talented parents’ will remain.
This leaves just the 25% quota for economically weak students. The remaining 75% seats will have to be opened to the general category.
For close to a decade now, chaos has dogged nursery admissions in Delhi with one government order or the other being challenged in court. In December 2013, the lieutenant governor issued nursery guidelines scrapping management quota, provoking a court battle that raged till the end of March 2014 whereas admissions were to start in February — already delayed beyond the usual January date. After a high court order that year, schools were allowed to frame their own criteria.
School associations called the Kejriwal government’s latest order contempt of court. “When the L-G’s guidelines were challenged by school associations, a single bench passed an order giving schools the autonomy to frame their own criteria. This order was then challenged by the directorate of education in a division bench. The matter is still pending in court, so why the need to pass this order. We will soon put this matter before the court,” said SK Bhattacharya, president, Action Committee Unaided Private School.
The government rejected the charge. “Schools can set their own criteria but they cannot be discriminatory… We won’t say how many points to allot for what criterion but the criteria have to be just. We are issuing a new order. Let people challenge it in court if they want,” said Kejriwal.