The Centre on Thursday defended before the Delhi High Court Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan’s decision setting six years as the minimum age for admission to class 1 in Kendriya Vidyalayas in the upcoming academic year.
The Centre’s counsel told Justice Rekha Palli that the prescription of six years as eligibility age for class 1 was in tune with the National Education Policy (NEP) which all Kendriya Vidyalayas are bound to follow.
The lawyer explained that paragraph 4.1 of the NEP deals with the adoption of a new “5+3+3+4 design” for school education, under which Foundational Stage covers ages three to eight years and while the first three years are for Anganwadi/pre-school, two years are for primary school i.e. grades 1-2.
“We have requested the States (to adopt NEP). There are 21 States where six plus (years) is followed. States are transitioning,” the counsel said.
Delhi government counsel said that it has no role to play in the decision taken for the Kendriya Vidyalayas and in Delhi government schools, the age criteria for admission to class 1 is 5-6 years.
The court, which was hearing petitions challenging the six-year minimum age criteria, questioned as to how the disparity in age eligibility criteria for class 1 is “going to work out” here and asked Delhi government counsel to take instructions on the issue and listed the case for further hearing on March 14.
“We will have a holistic view. It will have an impact on everything. List on Monday,” the court said.
Justice Palli had sought the stand from the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) and the Centre on the petition earlier this week. KVS had then told the court that the age criteria were updated in strict compliance with the 2020 National Education Policy which was issued by the Centre on July 9, 2020.
In her petition, a five-year-old girl claimed that the change in age criteria, which was earlier five years, violates the right to education guaranteed to the petitioner under Articles 14, 21, and 21-A of the Constitution as well as under the provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
The petitioner, a UKG student who was represented by lawyer Ashok Agarwal, claimed has that KVS suddenly changed the admission criteria for class 1 to six years by uploading the guidelines for admission to Kendriya Vidyalayas on its portal just four days before the admission process started last month.
The petition has stated that change is arbitrary, discriminatory, unjust, unreasonable, and without the authority of law and that it did not give sufficient time to the parents to make alternate arrangements.
“The change to six-plus years is an invention of the respondent KVS without any mandate from the NEP 2020 (the National Education Policy 2020) and that too in the disadvantage of children like the petitioner,” said the petition filed through the father of the girl. It has added that most of the reputed private schools have closed their admission and as compared to students of other schools, children in KV would lose one year for no fault of their own.
“No comments were invited from affected parties, nor any public discussion held. Therefore, it is respectfully submitted that impugned guidelines suffer from unreasonableness and hit by Article 14 of Constitution of India,” said the petition which seeks a direction to the authorities to reframe the admission criteria in accordance with the law.
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