New Delhi: Even though anxious parents have been flooding the much-needed helpline for nursery admissions launched by the Delhi government with queries and complaints, many feel that the staff at helpline is not sufficiently equipped with information to deal with their grievances effectively.
The helpline, launched by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on January 13, has so far received 1361 calls and registered 864 complaints.
While, on one hand, getting connected to the staff at the helpline was difficult because of the long queue of callers, on the other hand, in the event they did get through the staff did not always have all the information to handle to their complaints, say parents.
“Even though the nursery admission guidelines don’t say that medical certificates are compulsory, a school in East Delhi was insisting on it. So I called the helpline to complain. But I was told that if the school was asking for it, I should submit it. But I tried to tell them that the guidelines made no mention of medical certificates and that there was rule making it compulsory, but they didn’t agree. I feel that the staff is not well-informed about the rules and this is creating problems,” said Jyoti Kukreja, a resident of Kalyani Nagar.
Thomas Anthony, member of Joint Action for Social Help (JOSH), a voluntary group that runs an RTE project, also said that his experience of calling the helpline left him dissatisfied. “After trying to call them multiple times, I was able to get through to them. And two, the level of awareness and expertise of the staff at helpline is disappointing.”
Anthony, however, did succeed in registering his complaint. And the following day, he received a call from education department. “I got a call from the education department from an official. He told me that he would talk to the administration of the concerned schools about my complaint and get back to me. That is the status as of now.”
Posts by parents on online admissions portals also spoke of frustrating experiences with the helpline. One post (from January 16 on schooladmissions.in) read: “I did call to complain, but the executive said after 15 minutes of putting me on hold that there is a technical problem, please call later.” (post edited for clarity).
Another parent wrote (on January 17) “Agree with you...it happened with me too....do you have any idea few schools in Delhi are selling the forms?”
Responding to complaints of long waiting periods to speak to helpline staff, Amit Mishra, an education coordinator appointed by Education Minsiter Manish Sisodia, said, “That is bound to happen as with any call centre. I try the helpline a couple of times a day to check and there are times when I too don’t get connected. But most of times I get connected.”
And on the more serious complaint about staff at the helpline not being equipped to handle grievances, Mishra said, “The nursery guidelines are available with everyone. But sometimes, parents ask questions that are not within the purview of the guidelines. For example, many parents complained that schools were refusing to give application forms because their child exceeded the upper age-limit. While the nursery guidelines specify a lower age-limit, there is no upper-age limit. In such cases, where information is not specified in the guidelines, the staff are sometimes are unable to answer the queries.”
Asked how complaints once registered were resolved, he said, “The education officer of the concerned zone is immediately informed about the complaint. The education officer then calls up the principal of the school in question to resolve the problem.”
Of the 864 complaints received, Mishra said 230 were to do with nursery admission guidelines. And of those, he said, 140 had been resolved. “The rest were complaints that were not related to the guidelines and were dealt with by the helpline staff itself. We can only take action against those who are flouting the guidelines,” he said.
The maximum number complaints, the education coordinator said, were to do with schools not giving forms to parents applying in the EWS (economically weaker section) category. “The next biggest category of complaints was to do with schools arbitrarily fixing the upper age limit, followed by complaints against schools for not accepting forms of children from EWS category and finally schools charging more than permitted Rs 25 for registration.”
Updated Date: Jan 26, 2014 13:00 PM