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After Delhi, Mumbai parents seek ban

Buoyed by the May 10 verdict, an NGO has filed a petition for a similar ban.

india Updated: May 21, 2006 10:10 IST

A Delhi High Court ruling stopping private schools from interviewing children before admission in nursery classes has prompted an NGO in Mumbai to seek a similar ban in Maharashtra.

Buoyed by the May 10 verdict, the Forum for Fairness in Education, a city-based NGO, has decided to file a petition before the Bombay High Court seeking a similar ban.

"Though a similar petition had been filed in the Bombay High Court in 2005, it was disposed of. In view of the Delhi High Court ruling, we will file a fresh suit. We hope the court will grant a similar judgment," the forum's president Jayant Jain said.

"The interviews not only subject tiny tots to severe mental trauma, it can also cause embarrassment and inconvenience to parents," Jain said.

Parents in Mumbai, however, doubt if their travails would end. "The Delhi High Court's judgment may have brought relief to our Delhi counterparts, but we have doubts if such a move will succeed in the city," said Shaheen Akhtar who is preparing her three-year-old son Vikas for admission into a nursery school here.

"Following experiences of relatives and acquaintances about school interviews, I am not taking any chances," said Anuradha Sharma, a working mother.

"While we speak in Hindi at home, my son is expected to answer questions in English. I am preparing my son as best as I can, knowing well that I am putting too much pressure on such a young child. But we have to get him admitted to a good school," added Sharma.

Said Gitika Saxena, another working parent who faced an admission interview along with her daughter last year: "My three-year-old daughter was asked who are the prime minister and the president of India. Though some of the posers on favourite cartoon characters were easy for her, a question on the Indian cricket captain simply bowled her out during the interview last year.

"We had to employ a private tutor for my son prior to his nursery school interview. It is not only taxing for the child, but parents too have to prepare for the interview," she said.

However, many parents say the deeper problem was the "donation" self-financed schools ask for at the time of admission. "Admissions in the city schools largely depend on donations. Schools demand large sum under the pretext of infrastructure development," said Saxena.

Jain said that donations taken by the schools have rendered admission interviews pointless.

Some schools here, meanwhile, have welcomed the Delhi High Court verdict but they want the judiciary to set specific guidelines on alternatives to interviews.

"We do not encourage interviews in our school. How can you judge a three-year-old in a span of 15 minutes? The child's age should be the only criterion for admission," reasoned Hema Nair, principal of the DAV Public School in the neighbouring district of Thane.

"We are for doing away with interviews. The Delhi High Court judgment is welcome but the court should provide guidelines on alternatives to interviews," said Children's Academy principal Rohan Bhatt.

First Published: May 21, 2006 08:43 IST