Mumbai: August and September till the end of the year are nervous months for parents who have pre-primary children seeking school admission. Parents are not only anxious about the admission going through but also fear the very process which can be anything from an interview to a GD of sorts to even well-shot pre-recorded videos of their ward. The pandemic has little to do with it but children have been little exposed to any kind of ‘reasoning’ or ‘questioning’, (especially by nameless people) till the actual 'school interview.' The interview process often comes like a rude shock - even for parents.
Parents view the admission process to be daunting for the most part
Parents are unusually uptight – as if they are going to be interviewed. Rushali Thakkar, a parent from Chembur, said, “Nervousness is always there. We have been to several schools for my daughter, Kenisha’s admission, and we went through several interviews too.”
Rushali said that the first thing all parents should keep in mind is that if the child has both parents, then both need to be present with the child at the time of admission. And this parent was also surprised that every school has its unique admission questions. “We went to Greenacres Academy, where she was asked about her favourite colour or food. Chembur’s Ryan International, on the other hand, gave her a small test with basic Math and fill-in-the-blanks types for English.”
Kenisha, the child also undertook the Dhirubhai Ambani International school admission procedure which was watching her interacting with other kids in a room.
Other parents are not so forthright about the admission process. They find the process tricky in some schools. One parent whose child is yet to gain admission says that the change in admission patterns in schools is wide and the child gets confused about taking part in all of them. “A child may not have answers to all questions and if they had, they would probably not need a school. Why make a child go through a process?” asked a parent.
Another parent said that some schools also have reservations, which further skews chances. “Go through an entire process and then realize there are not enough seats either.” Parents argue that after 3rd or 4th interview, the child has gotten enough of the ‘questions’ and may often fare badly out of defiance.
"Sometimes children just clamp up after facing unwelcome questions with the result the next interview will tend to go bad,” said yet another parent.
Schools are divided over the validity of such a process
For schools, interaction with parents is important to understand the background of the child. Explains Dr. Kavita Aggarwal, Principal, D.G. Khetan International School said, “We mainly interact with parents to know about their qualifications and family background. We also understand their philosophy towards education. We conduct only 1 round of interviews for a student and the outcome is further decided by the collective contribution of our Counsellor and Admissions Officer.”
With regards to the types of the admission process, some schools even allow parents to submit videos of their children, Sumit Dargan, Principal, of JBCN International School, Chembur, said, “We understand everyone is trying to deal with the situations post the pandemic and there are high chances that the children might not be able to interact properly at that very moment. Hence, we also allow parents to send videos of their ward’s engagement with other family members. We don’t expect the kids to try to communicate, maintain eye contact, or display any gross-motor skills.”
And some schools do not have an elaborate admission process in place at all – some just have a first come first served basis, provided essential criteria are in place.
“It is unnecessary pressure on parents as well as the child. When we talk about the Right to Education (RTE), it is not okay to discriminate against them just depending on how they perform in the interview. It is not in line with ‘true education. Diversity is the key. If children are filtered out, the school might end up having a similar type of perspective. And I think this is not what education should be. Hence, we don’t conduct any interviews, it is not justified. Rather, for admissions we follow a lottery system,” said Mrs. Sunita George, Principal, of Bombay Scottish School, Mahim.
'Children should ideally never be interviewed'
According to psychiatrist Dr. Dayal Mirchandani, it is not a good age for kids to be judged. “Parents get more anxious than children, which further gets transferred to children. Sometimes children have a bad day, and they end up not performing well in the interview. Hence, children should ideally never be interviewed because as long as the intelligence is normal there’s no need.”
Dr. Mirchandani added that sadly, this is how the world operates. Mainly, the IG schools are supposed to be more relaxed but those schools also push kids so high just to compete with their rivals. All these nonsense things keep on happening but it isn’t good for anyone.”
According to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, it is not allowed to carry any kind of screening process or to collect any capitation fee at the time of a child’s admission. Under Chapter IV section (13), sub-section (l), the Act states, “No school or person shall, while admitting a child, collect any capitation fee and subject the child or his or her parents or guardian to any screening procedure.”
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