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School?s out

india Updated: Oct 18, 2006 00:12 IST
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The procedure of nursery admissions is not as cut and dry as the committee appointed by the Delhi High Court to look into the matter would want it to be. The court has accepted the suggestion of the Asoke Ganguly committee that there be a 100-point weightage system that does away with any interaction with the parents or their children. The learned judges have stuck to the straight and narrow while avoiding the real issue that makes nursery admission such an ordeal. It is well-known that admission into any class, whether in private or government schools, requires a consideration either in cash or kind. The situation appears to have spiralled out of control for two reasons. One, staggering levels of mismanagement and apathy in government schools; and two, the absence of enough ‘good’ private schools.

But for years, Delhi has seen court committees, parents and schools going round in circles, grasping at ‘solutions’. The latest  recommendations bring on a sense of déjâ vu — siblings will be given preference, a neighbourhood policy is to be enforced, and personal interactions will be banned. Girls and disabled students will be preferred to boys and able-bodied children. One is not sure how any of these measures will make the system transparent. Except for mock-quantifying the parameters, not one of these ‘solutions’ is new. Parents have managed to work their way around all such ‘rules’, not without help from schools. There is need for greater concern for the deep-rooted malaise of government schools, where the bulk of the school-going children are educated. A neighbourhood policy works only when efficient schools are evenly distributed throughout the state. In Delhi, this is not the case. Private schools mushroom in two-room quarters, while government schools with extensive grounds don’t even pretend to provide quality education. The courts should spare a thought as to why people from even the poorer sections of society prefer private and NGO-run schools despite them being more expensive.

The one effective and simple way to fix the problem is to demand that state-run schools clean up their act and to make them accountable for providing quality education.