Class I: Minimum age for admission to remain 5 years in Kerala
Sivankutty says it’s not possible to ‘scuttle’ the existing system where a child progresses from LKG and UKG and gets admitted to Class I at the age of five
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state will continue admitting students to Class I at the age of five years, General Education Minister V Sivankutty has said. The Union government had earlier this year reminded the states and union territories to make six years the minimum age for admission to Class I.
Sivankutty told reporters here on Wednesday that it was not possible to ‘scuttle’ the existing system in the state where a child progresses from LKG and UKG and gets admitted to Class I at the age of five. He added that all stakeholders need to be taken into confidence before raising the minimum age of admission in Class I.
“We are ready for further discussions with the Centre on the implementation of various proposals in the National Education Policy. However, certain aspects can be implemented only after considering the peculiar circumstances prevailing in the state,” Sivankutty said and added that such implementation cannot be done ‘mechanically.’
He said all children in the state enter the schooling system and the majority of them pursue studies till Class 12. He added that the dropout rate in the state was very low, unlike the national average. As per the Centre’s statistics, nearly eight crore children are out of the schooling system. While the average schooling years in the state is more than 11 years, it is only 6.7 years at the national level, he said.
The union ministry of education had asked states and union territories to align their age of admission in schools with that of the National Education Policy that proposes admission to Class I at the age of six and above.
The NEP 2020 envisages three years of pre-schooling instead of the two years that states such as Kerala follow. The Centre’s direction to fix the minimum age for admission at six years was prompted by wide variations in the age criteria currently followed by various states. As many as 14 states and Union Territories, including Kerala, allow Class 1 admission for children before completing six years of age.
According to an official of the State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT), raising the age of admission to Class I was impractical in a state like Kerala where a majority of working parents prefer to send their children to formal school at an early age. Even schools in the state affiliated with national boards such as CBSE and ICSE admit students to Class I once they reach five years of age. However, Kendriya Vidyalayas in the state has stipulated six years as the minimum age of admission for Class I, following the Centre’s directive.