It is harder for a three-year-old to get into the nursery sections of some leading Delhi schools than for undergraduates to gain admission into one of the 13 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Harvard University, Yale University, Oxford University and Cambridge University.
This year, only one out of every 46 applicants got into Springdales School (Pusa Road and Kirti Nagar). It was easier for candidates appearing for the IIT-Joint Entrance Examina-tion: one of every 45 candidates made the cut last year. Sanskriti School, Chanakyapuri, and Amity International, Saket, ran the IITs close, with 40 and 38 applicants, respectively, per seat in the general category.
And admissions to Ivy League institutions in the US — like Harvard, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell — and venerable UK universities like Oxford and Cambridge were a walk in the park in comparison: the admission ratio varied between one in 11 for Harvard and Yale and one in five for Oxford and Cornell (see As Tough As It Gets).
“I could never have imagined cracking nursery for my son would be as tough as cracking the JEE,” said parent Shilpi Kapoor, software engineer and IIT alumnus.
“The problem is parents want brand value for their kids. They want to send their children to certain reputed schools; that’s why many of the established schools receive massive applications,” said Ameeta Wattal, principal of Springdales School, Pusa Road.
“We received over 2,000 seats for 100 nursery seats. Of these, over a 1,000 were for the 25 general seats,” said Sanskriti principal Abha Sehgal.
Dinesh Monga, parent of a child who applied to 15 schools, blames the point system for the problem. “I live right next to Delhi Public School (DPS), East of Kailash. But apart from the points on neighbourhood, I lost out on every other criterion – sibling, alumni, government servant and girl child,” said Monga, whose child has not qualified for a single school.
And Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, which has yet to close its admissions, has received 3,000 applications for 70 seats for the 2008-09 session, which means there were about 43 tiny tots competing for each seat.
It is a catch-22 situation for parents. Older schools give preference to their long list of alumni and also take in siblings of existing students, thus, leaving most parents high and dry.
“I’m an IIT alumnus. But does that mean that my daughter will automatically qualify for IIT?” asked Himanshu Gupta, a harassed parent.
Angry parents have resorted to all means possible – starting a signature campaign against the unfair points system, writing to the state education minister, the mayor and also appealing to the Union human resource development ministry.
But that’s unlikely to offer much relief. So, for thousands of parents, the wait continues.
Additional reporting by Chetan Chauhan