Delhi: Nursery Admissions still a big issue

EVEN AS A DELHI HIGH court order on February 16, 2016 restored management quota for nearly 3000 private unaided schools offering nursery admission in Delhi, the issue of nursery admissions will continue to rant in the national capital this year too in coming weeks as the process of admission draws to a close on March 31. The Delhi government, which received a huge setback after losing the legal battle for purportedly weeding out corruption in nursery admissions by these schools, will be issuing show cause notices to many schools against whom complaints demanding illegal capitation fee have been received by the directorate education of the government of NCT Delhi. According to official sources, the Deputy Directors of Education (DDE) would prepare a list of such schools in their areas and issue show cause notices and take action after investigations into the complaints received.
“Many parents, whose wards have failed to get through in the schools they have applied for, allege that the points system developed by the schools have come in their way. The results announced by schools so far, the parents say, give the impression that admission is a prerogative of those who have a sibling in the school or those who fulfill the criteria of alumni. Parents of boy child children particularly, not fulfilling the eligibility criteria or the points system developed by the schools, find it difficult to get an admission for their wards in nursery schools,” says Sumit Vohra, founder of nurseryadmissions.com and activist, who has forwarded complaints demanding capitation fee against several schools posted by parents on his portal in a letter to education minister Manish Sisodia. The parents have complained that the school authorities asked them to leave their mobiles at the security gate so that the conversation demanding money ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh in name of annual charges etc couldn’t be recorded as a proof.
At the same time schools dismiss these allegations as imaginary and false out of frustration by those parents who fail to get admissions for their child. “We received 2080 applications against 80 seats in the general category, so obviously a large number wouldn’t have made it. So, some of them out of frustration would say anything but for instance in our case there is no substance in any complaint made against us,” says Rajesh Hassija, director of Indraprastha Group of Schools having schools in Dwarka, Paschim Vihar, Noida.  Going a step further Dr Aanieetaa Vaissnava, founder trustee and chairperson of Vaataayan Foundation, who is also former principal of some DPS schools as also secretary of DPS World Foundation, says that strict action must be taken against those parents making false complaints while defending management quota. “School managements need some discretion for instance for their own children or those of staff. After all, they invest their money and time in building schools,” she adds.
It may be mentioned that early during this nursery admission season which began in January, it was a see-saw kind of fight between Delhi government and private school lobbies. The AAP government on January 6 issued an order quashing management quota and 62 various criteria that schools uploaded on their websites. Delhi Chief Minister at a press conference while making the order public on the day said, “Management quota is the biggest scam in education today,” adding “the mafia has captured the education system and made it a business. The government will not tolerate this.” The AAP government also centralized 25% admission under EWS category with online application and computerized draw of these applications by the directorate of education. The directorate received 73000 applications for 28000 seats and in the first draw for about 25000 seats was held on February 16.
Ironically on the same day Delhi High Court dismissed the appeal of Delhi government on management quota and restored it. In the turn of events following the January 6 order of the Delhi government, Action Committee Unaided Private Schools challenged the order in the High Court saying that the order didn’t take into consideration the Admission Procedure for Pre-Primary class order of 2007 by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and hence it lacked authenticity of the law. A single-bench comprising Justice Man Mohan while hearing writ petitions (CM Appl.1778/2016 in W.P.(C) 448/2016 and CM Appl. 1831/2016 in W.P.(C) 452/2016) on February 4 stayed the Delhi government order of January 6 saying the deletion of management quota by way of an office order is impermissible in law. Consequently, Delhi government filed an appeal against the order and on February 16, a bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath dismissed the appeal of Delhi government against the single- judge order, saying, “The appeal is devoid of any merit and the same is accordingly dismissed.” The bench also said, “The interim stay has been granted with respect to 11 criteria out of the 62 and the management quota,” making it clear that the allegations of malpractice should be investigated and taken to their logical conclusion. The division bench in its 9-page-order, however, said, “the findings made in this verdict as well as the order under appeal shall not be treated as conclusive and shall not come in the way while deciding the main petition.” The next hearing on main writ petition is scheduled on April 18.
So contrary to expectations that with installation of AAP government in Delhi, the issue of malpractices and transparency in nursery admissions will be settled for good, the issue has refused to go and court battles continue to rage. However, what has become apparent is that unless the demand and supply issue is addressed and pre-schooling brought under the ambit of government schools, the nursery admissions in Delhi will remain a contentious problem. The private schools on the hand should rein in their members, who bring a bad name to them and remember there isn’t smoke without fire.