Thursday, February 13, 2014

No screening test for children till Std 8: HC

No screening test for children till Std 8: HC

Shibu Thomas, TNN Oct 21, 2013, 03.20AM IST
MUMBAI: Common screening tests cannot be held for admissions till Std VIII, the Bombay high court has ruled in a landmark judgment.
Hearing a petition filed by a Pune school, a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Revati Mohite Dere said admissions granted after such tests are illegal and liable to be cancelled under the Right To Education (RTE) Act. "Plain meaning (of RTE provisions) is that while admitting a child to the school, the...authorities shall neither collect any capitation fee nor subject the child or his/her parents or guardian to any screening procedure," said the judges.
The high court order is likely to have a far-reaching impact, especially on entrance tests conducted by elite schools. The school, Jnana Prabodhini Prashala, had conducted two rounds of "intelligence tests" for granting admissions to students during the 2012-2013 academic year. The school's argument that the ban on common screening tests were applicable only to nursery or Std I admissions was rejected by the court. "There is nothing in (the rules) to indicate that the prohibition of subjecting the students or parents to screening procedure will apply only to the nursery or Std I admissions," said the judge pointing out that the RTE Act provides for no prohibitions to be placed while admitting students up to Std VIII. "If the admissions contemplated by RTE are narrowly construed as admissions only to the nursery or Std I, the very object of enacting (it) shall be defeated," the court said. The judges said while the RTE provides for a random method of admissions, no methodical entrance tests are permitted. The HC also dismissed the school's plea that for such a violation the only punishment is a fine. "Once it is found that admission procedure in contravention of (rules) is adopted, the entire admission process becomes illegal... the education officer was right in directing the school management to conduct a fresh process...," said the court.
However, the judges said since half the academic year was already over, the state education officer's order cancelling the admissions would be given effect to only at the end of the second term. The management had claimed that a large number of students apply to the reputed school run by it.
They had therefore, "adopted a very objective test for ascertaining the giftedness (sic) of the students. Such giftedness is not ascertained only on the basis of intellectual abilities but the possible development of the child for national development". The argument failed to impress the HC.

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