nursery admissions

The nursery admissions annual nightmare is on. It has had many avatars in the past years, each more ludicrous then the other. In a city where there are 4 tiny tots applying for 1 seat, the odds are really skewed against the poor souls. Over the past years nursery school admission procedures have gone through many mutations and avatars. Each time a problem arises due to the supply and demand situation, a Committee is promptly set and a new set of regulations are made making our children nothing short of guinea pigs. I remember a time when a young woman I knew burst into tears when she came to know she was pregnant. When asked, she answered amidst sobs: I cannot go through a school admission again! I do not blame her as getting your child admitted to school is a herculean task! To give you a taste of what it was 3 years ago in Mumbai, I simply suggest you read this link. This was the time when parents were submitted to a sort of Spanish inquisition. Here is a sampler:

Do you have a PC at home? Are you the carrier of a life threatening disease? How big is your house? What car do you drive? Do you have your tax returns in place? And most importantly, do you have a criminal record? The normal answer would be : this is none of your f****** business!! But beware the wrong answer would deny a place in school to your child.

When the parent's interview's were found to be outrageous, a new model was conjured and you had the points system and the possibility of your child being rejected by umpteen schools and the said system was elitist to say the least. Then there was the donation route which again left the humbler children out. All this whilst schools made money hand over fist as they charged greedily for admission forms and you had to fill up umpteen if you wanted to see your kid's name on the hallowed list. More Committees with unclear terms of reference or should I say hidden agendas. Then came the quota wand! Oh how we love this word: QUOTA! It has been the preferred route of our political masters to muddy waters when they are in a soup. So over and above the points: siblings, gender, alumni, neighbourhood etc there was the management quota that at least protected those who had connections or moolah. It suited some interests.

By this time the debate on neighbourhood school versus 25% reservations for the poor was raging and the later won. Wonder why? Insidious privatisation of education was in full swing instead of the saner option which would have been to improve Government schools and make them a valid option for the the middle class. And therein lies the problem. Everything got lost in translation as inane regulations were drafted and Government schools left to decay. Let us not forget that most of our senior bureaucrats are G school alumni! So quota it was: 25% for the poor and underprivileged and then the point system. Now we all know that we Indian are masters at beating the system. I cannot begin to tell you how many fudged income certificates and tenancy agreement have been made to circumvent the problems. So be it the 25% quota or the neighbourhood points, most of them do not really have the real beneficiaries.

Last week, another bombshell: the scrapping of the management quota. Ouch. It hit where it hurts! And to answer the question our CEO quipped: “Schools are charitable societies and their motive should not be to earn profit. Why are Delhi schools resistant to being transparent? They should not have approached the High court.” I am a bit lost. Education should be run by the State and yet no one talks of revamping the G schools. Now in Delhi, there are Government schools everywhere, almost at walking distance and many have single storied sheds. They have huge grounds and ample space to grow. Instead they are falling apart. Why not look at them and make them the logical option to everyone, and those who have issues about their kids studying with the kids of their staff can built their own gated school. It is time the children of India learned together as it should be and schools became the level playing field. But who will bell the cat.

Till that day, all we will see is more parents harried, more kids suffering and quality education never reaching the child most in need. Let us not forget that parents are now empowered and that even illiterate aspire to a good school for their kids. Education is a a right our kids earned after 6 decades of Independence so please do not botch it for them.