Debate over minimum age of admission to class one
There is no clarity among the schools in the State on whether to implement the government order that all children shall have attained the age of six years at the time of admission to class 1 from the academic year 2012-13.
Many educational institutions are playing it safe by granting admissions only to the six year olds. “This academic year, we’re giving class one admissions mostly to six-year-olds.
At least, they should have attained five-and-a-half years, not less than that,” Sister Mary Helma, Principal, Mount Carmel Vidyaniketan Senior Secondary School, Kanjikuzhy, Kottayam, said.
“I’ve approached a few schools for admission of my child. While the educational institutions like Bhavans are willing to take my five-year-old daughter, the one at Maradu says an official communication in this regard is yet to arrive and so I need to wait,” said Saumya Vinod, a resident of Edapally.
On the other hand, a number of CBSE/ICSE schools have already filled the seats for class 1 by doling out admissions to five-year-olds too.
“The State’s order will virtually result in a generation losing out on a precious year as currently the students in UKG or pre-primary classes will have to repeat a year, studying nothing new.
Hence we are against the policy and have taken in children aged five years for class one,” former Additional Solicitor General and Chairman of Kerala Federation of CBSE/ICSE Schools, T.P. M. Ibrahim Khan said.
He questioned the logic behind the decision.
“On what basis is the State saying this? If it is the Right to Education Act, then the Act only mentions that free and compulsory education to children between the ages of six and 14 should be ensured. There is no word on the minimum age of admission to class 1,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the State and Central governments, in their attempt to find a way out, have agreed to finalise the issue of age through consensus.
“It has come to the notice of the government that certain schools functioning in the State under the control of Government of India have fixed the age as five for admission to class 1 even after the enactment of the RTE Act which will adversely affect the admissions and academic merits of the State schools,” M. Sivasankar, Secretary, General Education Department, said.
The State recently took up the issue with the Centre as the department felt the need to have parity and uniformity in admissions to all schools in the state, irrespective of unaided, aided, government and specified category schools.
“It is ascertained from the Centre that the issue needs to be resolved through a consensus process. Hence the existing provisions in the Kerala Education Rules will continue to be in vogue.
The age of admission to class 1 shall be five years for all schools of the State until the Kendriya Vidyalayas controlled by the Centre also switch over to age six as implied in the RTE act,” the official said.
Already, parents find it a big challenge to gain admissions for their children in reputed schools. The uncertainty over age will only add to their anxiety.