With the Delhi government contemplating skipping nursery admissions next academic session in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, many parents waiting to enrol their children, under the reserved Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category, expressed concern saying that their wards might miss out on the opportunity to get “quality education”.
Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, 25% of seats are to be reserved for the EWS/Disadvantaged group (DG) category in entry-level classes— nursery, KG, and I — in all private schools.
Amit Kumar, who works in a shop in Lajpat Nagar, said that her daughter (5) was not given admission this year by a private school despite her name appearing in the list of selected candidates issued by the Directorate of Education (DoE). “The school said they can only take her when they get more general category admissions. Her admission is still pending. In case she doesn’t get admission this year and the enrollment process won’t happen next year what will she do till 2022? None in my family is educated to teach her at home. We can’t even afford to enroll her in any other private school in the general category,” he said.
Another parent, Ajay Sharma, a labourer from JJ-camp Prasad Nagar (Molarband extension), said, “I have never been to school but I want both of my sons to get a good education. This year both my sons (6 and 5-year-old) had applied for admission in classes nursery and 1 under the EWS category. None of them could get admission in any private school. In case the admission process will not be conducted next year, both of them will exceed the upper age limit for admission in these classes by 2022,” he said.
As per the norms, the upper age limit has been fixed to 5, 6, and 7 years for admission in the nursery, KG, and Class 1, respectively, for EWS/DG students.
The admission process under the EWS/DG already disrupted this year due to the prolonged closure of schools amid the pandemic. According to the data provided by the DoE, over 17,000 out of the available 50,000 (approx) EWS/DG seats across 1,700 private unaided schools are still lying vacant. The DoE has extended the last date of admission till December 31.
A senior DoE official said, “Many schools have also kept many students on the waiting list since their general category seats in these classes are also vacant. Schools enroll general and EWS category students in a 3:1 ratio. Many low-budget private schools have witnessed a drop in admissions due to the pandemic situation this year.”
Experts said that the proposal of not conducting admission next year will hit EWS students the most. Ekramul Haque of NGO Mission Taleem said, “Admissions under the RTE act are the only way of getting better and equal education opportunities for poor kids. If the government decides not to conduct admission in 2021-22, an entire group of poor students will be deprived of free and compulsory education they are entitled to. The government should take this aspect in consideration before taking any decision.”
Advocate Ashok Agarwal, president of All India Parents Association, said, “What if the schools reopen by June or July? General category parents can enroll their kids in private schools in neighbouring Noida and Gurgaon. But where will the poor kids go? Parents completely oppose this proposal of the government.”
A senior government official said that any decision regarding the admission will be taken after consulting with all stakeholders. “The government will take advice from all stakeholders including schools, parents, and experts before taking any decision.”