If you are looking for an admission into some popular schools in the city, then the chances are that you might have to start working on the process even before your child turns one. Several south Mumbai schools have already begun admission registrations for batch starting 2020. Legislation like the Right to Education Act, 2009, and proposed changes in the law have given little relief to parents, seeking admission for their kids in Mumbai’s better schools. “The government is implementing the RTE Act but little has been done in terms of enrolment rules. The state is not even implementing a common admission schedule. Parents have to run from one school to another at different times of the year. This also results in the loss of deposits that parents pay at various schools,” said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education.
In January, the state education department had issued guidelines setting the minimum age of admission to Stds I at six years starting 2019-20. This means a child will have to be three years old for nursery admissions in the 2016-2017 academic year.
However, that is not being followed claimed teachers. “The rule should apply to fresh admissions but schools in the western suburbs are making children repeat an academic year to meet the requirements and parents are burdened with pre-primary fees for an extra year,” said Aftab Siddique, a teacher. She has written to the school education department to look into the matter.
The plight of the economically weaker sections is even worse. The RTE Act mandates that all private unaided non-minority schools in the state must set aside seats for students from disadvantaged groups.
This year out of the 4,014 applications received for over 10,000 seats only around 1,400 students were admitted. “Despite the BMC education department issuing allotment letters, many schools have turned back students citing trivial reasons. This is happening because schools know that no action is going to be taken against them,” said Sudhir Paranjpe, education activist. Even as the RTE Act proscribes screening tests during admissions for children or their parents, several schools continue to conduct tests and interviews. A note on the website of a popular international school mentioned that students from Grade II upwards will appear for an entrance test. On passing the entrance test, the student and parents are called for an interview. “Fearing that if they raise their voice against such practices their child will be left without a school, parents do not complain,” said Jain.