The early signs don’t bode well for the parents. The point-system appears to be back with a vengeance with few schools paying heed to the government’s advisory to make it more just.
1 January (Tuesday) is when the admission process formally begins. This follows the admission schedule announced by the Delhi government on 13 December. (Read the guidelines here.)
While a few schools have already announced the point-system, the majority of the schools are expected to make the announcement on 1 January. As per the point-system, admissions are based on points a child earns on different criteria chosen by the school such as distance/neighbourhood, sibling, girl child, alumni and so on.
It may be recalled that a PIL in the Delhi High Court has challenged the point-system as a basis for admission as being against the Right to Education. (Read report here. )
Citing examples of completely arbitrary and sometime frivolous criteria chosen by some schools, Sumit Vohra, founder of admissionsnursery.com said: “One school is awarding points for parents if they are teetotalers, vegetarians and non-smokers – five points each. Another has allotted 10 points if a first-cousin is living on the premises. And yet another, gives 10 points if parents are from an inter-cultural background.”
A key demand of parents, a demand reflected in the recent advisory to private schools by the government, was to allot maximum points to the neighbourhood criterion and give less weightage to points such as alumni, first child and so on.
“Only few schools have increased the points awarded to the neighbourhood criteria. We are not expecting much change this year. Except distance being given 5-10 points more by some schools, not all, the trend is not going to change. The parents are going to feel the heat like they did last year.”
A cause of worry for parents said Rajan Arora, founder of schooladmissions.in, is that the major schools are yet to announce their point system. “The lack of information is making parents apprehensive. Most of the schools have not disclosed their point-system, they have only given details about the schedule. So far, information is available for only 40-50 schools. And so parents are not in a position to plan. Also, there is no clarity from schools on whether they will be issuing online forms.”
Citing an example of a school flouting the DOE’s admission schedule, Vohra said: “St Francis De Sales School, which gets 900-1000 applications a year, has announced that application forms will be available only on four specified days. The DOE schedule clearly directs schools to give application forms for 15 days from 1st to 15th of January.”
The DOE guidelines categorically state that no deviation from the prescribed schedule will be permitted.
Asked what advice he would give to parents on surviving the admission season, Arora said: “First of all, get the documentation in order. Get multiple copies. Get them attested. Many schools nowadays ask for immunisation certificate. If you don’t have it, get it made. Make a plan. Inform your office that during the next 15 days you might need to take leave to attend to your child’s admission.”
With 4 lakh applications competing for 1 lakh nursery seats, the admission process is bound to be a stressful process for most parents.
Vohra suggests that a practical approach. “Don’t run after the brands. Fill out at least 15 forms. First priority should be neighbourhood schools. Block your seat first, then try for schools of your choice. And don’t fall into the trap of donations and touts.”
He also has advice for online filling of forms. “Wait for the initial rush to pass. You can fill out forms on the second or third day. The best time is afternoons. Never fill the form after midnight. If there is a technical problem you won’t be able to contact the school.”