The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reiterated its earlier order that the age of a child seeking admission to nursery will have to be 3 years as on April 1, 2007. The Delhi government, however, is going to seek a modification of the order.
On Wednesday, the Delhi Government planned to request the court to maintain status quo and fix the admission age for nursery class at 3 and a half years on April 1, 2007.
Parents and schools have been opposing the lowering of the admission age saying it was too early for children to join mainstream schools. Their plans, however, came to naught, as government counsel KTS Tulsi was late for the hearing.
This meant the government was virtually unrepresented in the hearing before a Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice M K Sharma and Sanjiv Khanna after all the hype over the issue. The Delhi Government counsel came rushing in minutes later and said he was filing an affidavit to appraise the court about the sentiment expressed at the School Advisory Board meeting on Monday that 3 years was too young to start mainstream education.
The judges refused to accept the petition saying the “matter has already been disposed of”. Tulsi said the government would make one more attempt for a status quo on age. “I will file a petition in the court on Thursday seeking a modification of the earlier order of the court,” he told Hindustan Times.
Delhi education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely also confirmed that the government was going to pursue the matter of nursery admission age. “We will file a petition tomorrow for immediate reprieve. In the long run, the Act will be amended to incorporate the change in the admission age for nursery to 3 and a half years on April 1. We are duty bound to make Delhi a child-friendly state. We will take every possible legal step to ensure that children that young do not have to start mainstream education,” Lovely told Hindustan Times.
Lovely said parents need not panic as the amendment would be brought about as soon as the Delhi assembly resumes in March. “The changes will be effective from this academic session,” he said. The court also disposed of the petition filed by a civil rights group Social Jurist sought that the admission age be raised to 3 and a half years. The court repeated its earlier order citing that since the admission age for Class I was 5 years as per the Delhi School Education Act, 1973, “for admission to nursery class, a child must have attained on the date of admission the age of 3 years”.
“In view of the stand taken on January 17, we do not think any further order is required on this issue,” the court said. Social Jurist counsel Ashok Agarwal did not press for further hearing in view of the Bench’s January 17 order. Parents and schools, however, expressed their concern over the lowering of the age criteria. National Progressive Schools’ Conference chairperson Usha Ram said since this was a court order, schools did not have a choice.
“We are not happy about this because 3 is too young to join mainstream school. It took a lot of deliberations a couple of years back to raise the age to 3 and a half years as on April 1. We are back to the old order again,” said Ram. Parents who had pinned their hopes on the age roll back also seemed a disappointed lot.
“This is a disastrous situation. My twin boys turn 3 years old on March 24 and we were not even aware that the nursery admission age has been lowered. I know many parents in a similar situation. The new age criteria was declared in December-mid and in two months, the whole process is over. Even if we apply next year for prep, getting in will be difficult,” said Meeta Vermani, a parent.