Mumbai: Pooja Ambekar, a Kandivali resident, never imagined that the commonplace practise of school admission interviews would turn into a harrowing experience for her seven-year-old twin sons.
On Saturday, April 1, the two children were asked to take a written test as a part of the admission process to the second standard of the Malad-based CBSE school. Following the test, the teacher announced that one of the brothers has cleared the paper while the other hasn’t.
“The teacher gave me two options. I could either get a medical certificate to prove that my son has trouble learning or asked me to write a mail stating that I have no objection if my son performs poorly at school,” said Pooja.
The boys, who were witnesses to this verdict, are now scared of going to different schools and being separated from each other. The seven-year-old who could not clear the test is also anxious about doing all activities he was once good at, said the mother.
Interviews despite presence of RTE in Maharashtra
This incident happened nearly a decade after the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act in Maharashtra, which prohibits schools from conducting screening procedures for children or parents at the time of admissions. This case is a testament that the screening practise is widely followed at several old and new schools around the city.
Pooja, who recently moved to Mumbai from Satara, underwent the screening while trying to enrol her sons in the Malad branch of a pan-India school chain. As a part of the process, her two children were taken to another room and were asked to solve a question paper that would determine their admission.
Screening disheartens tiny tots
Disturbed by the experience, Pooja and her two sons went back home as she could see a sense of fear gripping her child. “My son found it difficult to read some of the English words in the question paper. But he speaks the language very fluently and the school never even considered this. This interview has driven him into a shell,” said the concerned mother.
The children appeared for the school’s question paper for the second time and the school refused to admit the same child again. “They announced the results in front of my sons again and my boy burst out crying,” said Pooja.
Repelled by the school’s approach, the mother is now looking to admit both her sons to another school while she is already tutoring her sons to cope with the parts they find difficult. “Nowadays, the schools are too quick to judge the children. The students are either categorised as geniuses or slow learners, there’s no in-between,” she said.
School stands by baseline assesment
When contacted by The FPJ, the official spokesperson from the school said, "We follow a standard admission process under which for any new admission we conduct a baseline assessment test. In this case, the child was given two opportunities to appear for the test and despite getting support from the teachers he was not able to qualify.
Therefore the principal requested the parents to enrol the child in 1st standard for better learning and growth. Our conversation was completely based on Academics and the student was not termed as a special child during the entire conversation. For special children, we have a separate procedure of admission, wherein we do not take the BLA test for special children."
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