February 20, 2012

Open Debate On Sarkari Schools

City schools ignore ban to screen kids for admission

HYDERABAD: Flouting all rules, including a 2001 Supreme Court directive, a 2008 Union HRD ministry order and the Right to Education Act, all of which have proscribed entrance tests for children, city schools are still conducting screening tests for tiny tots during admissions.

And cashing in on these tests are coaching centres that have 'tailor-made preparatory material' designed to help toddlers 'crack' these entrance tests for a fee ranging between Rs 500 to Rs 6,000.

Admissions at most city schools opened in December and shall go on till the end of February. The state education department has already sent a memo to city schools asking them to follow the 'lottery' system for admissions, as stipulated by the RTE Act but only a handful of them have taken heed. However, the education department's intervention, it seems, has ended with the memo.

While parents believe that it is their financial status which is the deal clincher when it comes to kindergarten admissions, school authorities say they take these tests to ensure that the student can cope with their system of teaching.

At most schools, children in the age group three-to-five years are made to take written and oral tests which asses their understanding of alphabets and familiarity with nursery rhymes. Some institutions will also use the test to screen out children with learning disabilities, parents said.

The test, principals said, is compulsory for children in the six-to-14 age group. The coaching centres entered the scene around three years ago with an increase in the numbers of those wanting to put their children in 'high end' schools.

The proprietor of a coaching institute at Ameerpet, said: "We conduct preparatory courses for students appearing for admission tests for class 1, LKG and UKG". These coaching centres come up with tailor-made courses based on the syllabus for the entrance test. K Rama Devi, owner of Sri Sai Ram Tuitions in Musheerabad, revealed that around 50 to 60 children had so far enrolled for these coaching classes.

The lottery system does not look like being implemented any time soon at these schools. "We are not trying to asses the merit of the children through a screening test. We just check their basic knowledge and how they respond to questions. And, for higher classes, we do not have that many admissions and so we do not have to go for the lottery system," said Usha Reddy, principal, Meridian.