SC sets min. age of admission at four, rejects two-year nursery

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New Delhi, Dec 14 (UNI) The Supreme Court today declined to permit unaided private schools in Delhi to have two-year nursery course (LKG and UKG) and made it clear that the minimum age of admission to nursery would remain four years.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Mr Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal, however, permitted unaided private public schools to frame their own rules and also permitted them to have informal interaction with the parents or guardians of the wards.

The apex court also permitted the schools to have their own time schedule for completing the admission process with a rider that they will have to inform Director of Education, Delhi within a week in writing about their time schedule.

The apex court also directed the private unaided schools to refund the fees of children who were not given admission or who got admission in some other school.

Earlier, senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for the Association of Unaided Public Schools pleaded before the court that these unaided schools could not be forced to follow the time schedule laid down for government schools and these about 1000 institutions could not have a common and uniform admission schedule.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi appearing for another petitioner Forum for Promotion of Quality Education contended before the court that schools should be permitted to take the tiny tots at the age of three so that they may have two-year pre-nursery training. The court asked, ''Why not include creches also?'' The court also told the petitioner that unaided school does not mean commercial establishment.

''Three year is not the age of sending the children to school and there is no need of having any interaction with the parents of a child after the information asked for by the school in their admission forms has been provided unless and untill you want to negotiate how much the parents can pay for the admission of their child.'' The court also turned down the contention of Mr Rohtagi that the minimum age for admission to first class can be fixed at six instead of five and two-year nursery course can be permitted without lowering the age of admission to three years as the Constitution provides the State shall ensure that the children between the age group of 6-14 are given primary education.

The petitioner in the High Court, Ashok Aggarwal, however opposed the petitioners in the apex court, and said the child cannot be made to suffer for the weaknesses or deficiencies of his parents. For example if parents were illiterate or poor then admission to the child could not be denied. The petitioners, however, contended that these schools have the right to have the children of their own choice because they were unaided.

UNI

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