Schools should adopt a much more sensitive and honest approach while going through the selection process, feel parents. Neeraja Murthy talks to a few of them as they recount their experiences
Why and how! That's the predicament most young parents go through in December. The last month of the year might be eagerly awaited as it heralds the holiday season but for some moms and dads looking for an admission in the junior kindergarten section in Hyderabad, the experience is nothing less than a nightmare. From keeping track of sale of admission forms to preparing their children and themselves for the ‘D-day' (read interview day), parents leave no stone unturned to pull the strings.
Ask two-year-old Gautam if he knows any rhyme and the little one sings ‘Twinkle twinkle little star' excitedly. “While his two sisters Tulsi and Vedika (in Standard III and L K G) study, Gautam sits with them and repeats tables and numbers,” says his mother Meena and adds, “We do not pressure him to learn things but when he is willing, what is the harm?”
While guidelines from the Directorate of Education exist, schools follow their method, which parents insist is a route to confusion. “The nursery admission seems fairly easy. The child's etiquette is monitored and parents are asked a few questions like Whether it is a nuclear family or Does the kid have siblings or do both the parents work etc;. The pressure for the child begins only when you plan to admit him/her in little higher classes,” says Madeeha, a resident of Mehidipatnam. Interestingly, for her daughter's nursery admission in one of the popular schools, she gave her parents' residential address in Abids. “There are a few elite schools which prefer a few posh areas,” she says.
The admission procedure starts when schools distribute application forms. This routine procedure can be unnerving as parents doubt schools' intention in selling hundreds of applications when only 100-odd seats are available for junior kindergarten. Says Archana, a housewife: “When the schools have limited seats then why do they sell so many application forms? These forms are not distributed free and it is not just about money. Parents have to make rounds of different schools, attend interactions (a term used for interviews) and be in a state of confusion without knowing which school will select their child,” she says. Vijay, another parent recounts his experience of trying to secure an admission in one of the popular schools in Jubilee Hills.
“It was with lot of expectation we approached this school for our son's admission to nursery and went through the interview routine. We left the place quite happy and satisfied. However, a week later we were called by the school principal personally to her office and told that they cannot give our son admission because they want to maintain ‘cosmopolitan nature' of their school. And she assured it was nothing to do with our son not qualifying. "He was brilliant," she said. We being ‘locals' worked against us. My point is right at stage one, they could have filtered us out...why put us through this interview/interaction routine and then reject. Schools should adopt a much more sensitive and honest approach while going through the selection process...instead of being hypocritical in their admission policies.”
Bhanusree, who runs a playschool in Bowenpally is appalled at the way ‘the competition monster' enters kids' lives in their kindergarten age.
“I was puzzled looking at a questionnaire to be filled by my son seeking admission into Standard 1. The questions ranged from naming the festivals celebrated by people of different religions and describing the work of a postman and a doctor. He panicked and didn't do well and naturally did not get the seat. Why do schools assess children on their ‘intelligence' in an exam? Why don't they test how a child colours or draws?” she asks.