HYDERABAD: This is admissions time. A trying time for about 1.5 lakh parents seeking seats for their toddlers in the city's prestigious schools. The race had, in fact, begun in December last year itself and, as it happens every year, this time too, schools are playing hard with scant regard for the law and the parents' plight.
Though it is unlawful to conduct 'screening' process for admissions at the beginners level under the Right to Education Act and other legislations, city schools are flouting norms with impunity. The Delhi Public School (DPS), Gachibowli conducted an "entrance examination" for admissions to first grade on Sunday. Gitanjali Devashala at Secunderabad has also begun its admission process for pre-preparatory school level through the process of "interactive session" involving parents and children — whatever that means.
The RTE is clear that admissions should be conducted only through lottery system or a random process of selection to avoid discrimination. In practice, though, the criteria for selection rests largely on how deep the pockets of the parents run. Schools are asking for details of the annual income of the parents and their designation on the application form itself as in the case of Jubilee Hills Public School which has a printed form asking for details on the parents' annual income and designation, or during the course of the 'interactive session.' New to Hyderabad and working for a multi-national company, Shoma Roy (who does not wish to be identified), had a first-hand experience during the ongoing admission process. “My son has good communication skills but the interactive session was hardly anything beyond a few set questions on numbers and colours, apart from his daily routine. I feel that the purpose was to estimate the amount me and my husband were willing to spend to procure a seat. It was humiliating to say the least but we had little choice than to shell out `65,000 for an admission to pre-primary as it is the only good school close to Madhapur,” says the irate parent.
More a norm than an exception, parents are ready to shell out the capitation fee under other heads if the school caters to their requirement. A parent identified as Priyaraj2005 blogging on a discussion forum described the ordeal at the entrance test the students had to go through at DPS Gachibowli wrote, "My son said some children were given the question paper and had to write the answers to some puzzle in wich he had to spell out the numbers which the teacher dictated, then some fruits and animals , ascending, descending orders, additions, greater / lesser/equal to signs and such things. Finally the kids came out after an hour of exam, with their pencil box in one hand and a chocolate in the other."
The parents have also devised a way to find the best-fit in the competitive world. "My child could not make it through a prestigious school last year as they rejected her application on the basis of age, saying she could get through pre-preparatory 2 instead of standard one and they had demanded a sum of `1 lakh after assessing my husband's annual income. We decided to get her admitted to a nearby school which charges `30,000 per year. This year we plan to go in for admission to 2nd standard at the same school.”
But for parents, whose children are yet to find admission, this is going to be one hell of a trial.