Saturday, January 28, 2012

3+ kids would be admitted to nursery, HC refuses to interfere

Toddlers above 3 can be admitted in pre-school (nursery) classes as the Delhi High Court refused to interfere with the age criteria for admission to entry-level classes, saying it is a part of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).

"Those schools where pre-school (nursery) education is imparted, it has to be treated as entry level and entry-level would not start from pre-primary (KG) in respect of such schools. As a fortiorari, children admitted at pre-school at the age of 3+ will get promotion to Pre-Primary in the next year and for that, they will not have to undergo the admission process all over again.

"However, in those schools where there is no pre-school level, it would be the pre-primary which would be treated as entry level where admission is to be given to the children at the age of 4+," a bench of acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said in its 71-page judgement on Friday.

Disposing off a PIL by NGO Social Jurist, the court said the ECCE was globally recognised which says that the process of kids' development starts from "the period of conception" till they attain eight years of age.

"The ECCE which has been globally recognised as critical for human resource development starts from the period of conception to age 8. This entire period presents developmental continuum and the Pre-school care and education has to be treated as part of this developmental continuum. It, thus, becomes an integrated process," it said on Friday.

The court declined to fix an age for the entry-lvel class and allowed the schools to continue with their existing admission processes for 3+ and 4+ toddlers.

The bench differed with the recommendation of the Ganguly Committee, which was constituted earlier by the high court, that only the children above four years in age should be admitted in an entry-level class of the school.

"Every child has a right to ECCE of equitable quality and when ECCE is treated as the first step in educational ladder and as a part of Education For All (EFA), the government as well as schools have the responsibility for all programmes for children of 3+ age as well, which is integral part of ECCE," it said.

The court said period from 0 to 8 years of age presents a "developmental continuum" and referred to the provisions of the Right to Education Act which casts a duty on the state to provide care and education to children below six years of age.

"The pedagogical process of ECCE includes a significant step, namely, at pre-school level, preparing the child for entry and success in primary school. In this process, the curriculum has to be such that it is able to help the child to adjust to routines of primary schools as well as to demands of formal teaching," it said.

The court rejected the NGO's plea that schools imparting formal education from class 1 should separate pre-school classes as the children are too small to take the burden.

"At the level of pre-school, curriculum has to be such which should ensure that child gets interested in education when he is to take next step at pre-primary level and thereafter, formal education from class 1.

"This can be ensured only when the child who gets admission in pre-school remains in the same milieu and environment. Therefore, those schools which have pre-school level as well, this pre-school level cannot be totally segregated as standalone basis. Such a situation will be derogatory to and prejudicial to the interest of children," it said.

While giving a go-ahead with the admission process for 3+ children, the court said their education would be "informal" and they cannot be burdened with books and home works.

"We make it clear that by no means we are attaching any less importance to these aspects which have to apply with all vigour, sincerity and sensibilities. Therefore, to that extent, pre-school is not to be treated as part of formal education and at that stage, education has to be only informal.

"Having said so, we want to make it clear that the focus on 'care' and 'education' at pre-school level has to be altogether different. The children are not to be burdened with any textbooks or home works. This part of school may be treated as nursery, Montessori, kindergarten, play school, etc," the court said.

It wanted the schools to follow ECCE's guiding principles, which include "play as basis of learning, art as the basis of education, recognition of specific features of children thinking, etc."

The court rejected the NGO's plea that pre-school class (nursery) be not tagged with formal schooling.

"It is in the interest of a child, who is admitted to pre-school, that he remains in the same environment to which he is admitted to at pre-school level and continuity is maintained.

"Subjecting the parents and children to double admission tests, first at pre-school level and again at pre-primary level would not only work against the welfare of the children, it would be counter-productive and may have serious psychological and other repercussions on the children," it said.

The court said non-segregation of pre-school and pre-primary classes from formal schooling would ensure that no child gets dropped out.

"Even for ensuring that there are no dropouts when the formal learning starts, the continuum from pre-school to pre-primary and higher level becomes essential. This is recognised by the Right to Education Act ... which lays emphasis on inclusive elementary education to all," it said.

"Thus, we do not find any proper reason or rationale to keep pre-school apart and segregated by those regular schools where pre-school facilities exist and admission starts from that stage. It is in the interest of all stakeholders that in such schools, pre-school is treated as entry level," it said.

The court said schools, while running pre-school classes, should also give admission to children belonging to economically weaker section (EWS) as mandated by the RTE Act.

No comments:

Post a Comment