Entry-level intake: Chandigarh schools admitting kids as young as 18 months old
As the admissions for the academic year 2020-2021 began, three city schools have started admitting children below the standard age of three in the entry-level classes.
Vivek High School, Sector 38, is taking in students of the age 1.5 years in its entry-level class, while Kailash Bahl DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 7-B and St Peters School, Sector 37-B, are admitting children as old as 2.5 years.
In a public notice released by the schools on its website, the schools mentioned respective age groups.
However, the Right to Education Act (2009) under Section 11 states that three years is the appropriate age for preschool.
The section 11 reads, “With a view to prepare children above the age of three years for elementary education and to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years, the appropriate government may make necessary arrangements for providing free preschool education for such children.”
HS Mamik, chairman of Vivek High School, said, “We follow the montessori system of education. It was started by Maria Montessori. Under this system, education worldwide starts as early as possible.”
He said, ‘montessori toddlers’ was a playschool. “We have a very different system of education,” he said.
“In this system, there are mixed-age classrooms. The classrooms for children of ages 2.5 years or 3 to 6 years are most common, but 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, and 15-18 years classrooms too exist. The website of the school mentions montessori toddlers class was started in 2014 in its Mohali branch by Meenu Sahi for children between the age of 1.5- 2.5 years.
Principal of St Peters School, Geeta Kaushik, said, “We usually get students around 3-years-old for admission.” Pooja Prakash, principal of KBDAV School, was unavailable for comments.
Director of school education, Rubinderjit Singh Brar, said, “We will look into the matter and ask schools to follow the Right to Education norms.” He said, “I will also ask the department to compile data of the schools with the details of the schools where students below the age of three are admitted.”
Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CCPCR) chairperson Harjinder Kaur said, “We will look into the methodology of the school.I am sure there would be some curriculum maintained by the school.”
Chanchal Singh, former deputy director of school education, Chandigarh administration, who is currently serving as the RTE expert at CCPCR, raising a question on the admissions below the age of three in various schools, said, “Below the age of three years students can be enrolled in crèche, but cannot be part of the school system.”