||The chaos that Delhi witnessed with regard to admission of children at the nursery stage in private schools in the last few months is rooted basically in three issues. The first and the obvious one is about deciphering the right age and criteria for admission. The second issue relates to what constitutes ‘education’ at the pre-school stage and how long should this be. The third and the deeper issue is the role of government in regard to private providers of education.
The debate that went on for several months as evident from the arguments, counter arguments and more arguments flashed in Delhi’s dailies, was put to rest for the time-being, when the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi passed an order on 7 March, 2007 that children will be admitted to pre-primary class in all schools, government or private, at the age of four and above and thus will move to Class I at five, in accordance with the provisions in Section 16 of the Delhi School Education Act and Rules, 1973. Younger children under four should be enrolled for pre-school education in neighborhood play schools and thus saved from the harrowing experience of hours of commuting in buses on Delhi’s roads in traffic congestion, the Judgment held.
The other pertinent issue highlighted in the said order was the distinction that was drawn between pre-primary and formal education. “Pre-primary education can not be and should not be considered and treated as a part of formal education”, the Court recognized. This implies that whether it is the neighborhood play school or a pre-primary section housed in a full-fledged school, the focus should essentially be on an environment that facilitates learning through fun for all children which is linked to individual pace of growth of the child addressing his needs in the physical, emotional, social and cognitive domains of development.