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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Social Jurist moves Delhi HC on School Entry Age for Child


LIST OF DATES

 

The petitioner by the present Public Interest Litigation has highlighted the failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi, Respondent No.1 herein, to prevent unaided recognized private schools of Delhi from admitting children below 4 years age in formal schools. The petitioner has also highlighted the failure on the part of Govt. of NCT of Delhi to ensure that all unaided recognized private schools of Delhi have only one year of pre-primary class in formal schools where children of 4+ age are admitted directly and are not promoted from nursery/preschool. The petitioner has further highlighted the failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to ensure that the children admitted in pre-primary class are not burdened with bags and books. The petitioner has further more highlighted the failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to start pre-primary class in all its schools. The petitioner has also highlighted the failure on the part of Govt. of NCT of Delhi to frame Guidelines in regard to pre-school in terms of Clause 21 of the Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007. It is submitted that the impugned failure on the part of the Respondent No.1 violates the fundamental rights of the children as guaranteed to them under Articles 14, 15, 21, 21-A, 38 & 39 of the Constitution of India read with the provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

 

The petitioner submits that it has earlier filed a PIL (W.P.(C) No. 12490/2006) in this Hon'ble Court highlighting the fact that different unaided recognized private schools in Delhi were applying different age criteria for admission of children in Nursery Classes and sought directions from this Hon'ble Court against the Government to ensure that all these schools must follow uniform age criteria in accordance with the provisions of Section 16 of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 which provides that a child who has not attained the age of 5 years shall not be admitted in Class-I in a recognized school.

 

07.03.2007           This Hon'ble Court vide Order dated March 07, 2007 passed in PIL W.P. (C) No. 12490 of 2006 constituted Ashok Ganguly Committee to ascertain what is the suitable age for a child to being pre-schooling.

 

31.03.2007           Ashok Ganguly Committee submitted its report with recommendations to the Government of NCT of Delhi making several recommendations and observations.

 

04.04.2007           This Hon'ble Court vide Order dated 04.04.2007 passed in PIL W.P. (C) No. 12490 of 2006 asked the Delhi Government to consider the committee report and take a conscious decision.

 

05.09.2007           The Govt of Delhi submitted its Affidavit before this Hon'ble Court in the above referred PIL whereby the Govt. conveyed to this Hon'ble Court that they have accepted the entire recommendations of Ashok Ganguly Committee and undertook to implement the same from the academic year 2008-09.

 

26.09.2007           This Hon'ble Court passed a final Order in the PIL W.P. (C) No. 12490 of 2006 disposing of the said PIL.

 

                             Thereafter, the Government of Delhi issued statutory Regulations namely – Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007.

 

10.11.2010           The petitioner sent a letter dated 10.11.2010 addressed to the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Delhi requesting her to intervene into the matter keeping in mind the various orders having been passed by this Hon'ble Court and the recommendations of Ashok Ganguly Committee on the minimum age of entry in formal school. However, nothing has been done by the Government in the matter of above said letter.

 

11.01.2011           The petitioner submits that the Contempt Petition [Cont. Cas (C) No. 870 of 2010] having being filed by the Petitioner came up for hearing before Hon'ble Mr. Justice G. S. Sistani of this Hon'ble Court and the Hon'ble Judge was pleased to hold that he did not find any violation of the orders passed by the Division Bench and accordingly no grounds were made out to entertain the contempt petition and the same was dismissed.

 

The petitioner respectfully submits that all the unaided recognized private schools are going ahead with the admission of 3 plus (below 4 yrs) year children in nursery class, which is being wrongly treated as a part and parcel of the formal school. It also clearly reveals that the admission in nursery class at 3 + age (below 4 years age) is treated as admission in the formal school system which is illegal, anti-child rights, goes against the principle of  the "best interest of the child"  and unconstitutional. It is submitted that the children of 3 plus age admitted in the nursery class are promoted to pre-primary class and thereafter to class I. It is submitted that by not implementing the provision regarding minimum age of entry of a child in formal school system, the Government of NCT of Delhi has not only violated the letters and spirit of the orders having been passed by this Hon'ble Court but its action is also anti-child. It is an established fact that permitting a child to enter into the formal school before the age of 4 years is not in the interest of the child. It only reflects total insensitiveness on the part of the Government towards the child's interest and rights.

 

The petitioner's complaint in the present writ petition is that despite clear orders of this Hon'ble Court, recommendations of Ganguly Committee and the Government's Regulation of 2007, the unaided recognized private schools have been admitting children below 4 years in its formal school system and unless they are prevented to do so, they would continue to do so even in the coming academic year of 2012-13. It is submitted that the admission process for the admission in the unaided primary school at the entry point is likely to start from the next month of this year.

 

31.10.2011           Hence the present PIL.

 

                                                                                               (Ashok Agarwal)

                                                                                       Advocate for the petitioner

 

IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

W.P. (C) NO. _____ OF 2011

 

 

IN THE MATTER OF:

Public Interest Litigation;

AND

 

IN THE MATTER OF:

Writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India;

 

AND

 

IN THE MATTER OF:

Failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi, Respondent No.1 herein, to prevent unaided recognized private schools of Delhi from admitting children below 4 years age in formal schools;

 

AND

IN THE MATTER OF :

Failure on the part of Govt. of NCT of Delhi to ensure that all unaided recognized private schools of Delhi have only one year of pre-primary class in formal schools where children of 4+ age are admitted directly and are not promoted from class nursery/preschool;

 

AND

IN THE MATTER OF:

Failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to ensure that the children admitted in pre-primary class are not burdened with bags and books;

AND

IN THE MATTER OF:

Failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to start pre-primary class in all its schools;

 

AND

IN THE MATTER OF:

Failure on the part of Govt. of NCT of Delhi to frame Guidelines in regard to pre-school in terms of Clause 21 of the Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007;

 

AND

IN THE MATTER OF:

Violation of fundamental rights to education of young children as guaranteed to them under Articles 14, 15, 21, 21-A, 38 and 39 of the Constitution of India read with the provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973, Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007

AND

IN THE MATTER OF:

 

(1) Constitution of India;

(2) Delhi School Education Act, 1973

(3) Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009

(4) Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007

(5) Orders dated March 07, 2007 and September 26, 2007 of a Division Bench of this Hon'ble Court passed in PIL W.P. (C) No.12490/2006 Social Jurist, A Civil Rights Group v. Union of India & Ors

 

AND

 

IN THE MATTER OF:

Social Jurist, A Civil Rights Group,

Through Co-ordinator

Advocate M.N. Singh,

478-479, Lawyers' Chambers,

Western Wing, Tis Hazari Courts,

Delhi-110054.                                                      ..... Petitioner

 

Versus

 

1. Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi,

Through its' Chief Secretary,

Delhi Secretariat,

I.P. Estate,

New Delhi-110 002.

 

2. Action Committee Unaided Recognized Private Schools

Through its' President,

Bal Bharti Public School,

Ganga Ram Hospital Marg,

Karol Bagh,

New Delhi-110 005                                              …. Respondents

 

 

To

THE HON'BLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF HIGH COURT

OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI AND HIS COMPANION

JUSTICES OF THE SAID HIGH COURT

 

The humble petition of the petitioner above named.

 

MOST RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH:

1.       The petitioner submits that it has no personal interest in the litigation and that the petition is not guided by self gain or for gain of any other person/institution/body and that there is no motive other than of public interest in filing the present writ petition.

 

2.       The petitioner submits that it is very much involved in the matter of implementation of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and has been frequently interacting with the education authorities of Govt. of NCT of Delhi and the source of averments made in the present writ petition is his personal knowledge.

 

3.       The petitioner submits that the present PIL is for the benefit of the children including children belonging to economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups and they are incapable of assessing the courts themselves.

 

4.       The petitioner submits that the Govt. of NCT of Delhi and Unaided Recognized Private Schools are likely to be affected by the Orders sought in the writ petition and which have been impleaded as Respondents. It is submitted that the unaided Recognized Private Schools, by and large, are represented by Action Committee Unaided Recognized Private Schools which has been impleaded as respondent No.2 herein. The petitioner says that to its knowledge, no other persons/bodies/institutions are likely to be affected by the Order sought in the writ petition.

 

5.       Social Jurist, A Civil Rights Group, the petitioner herein, is an organization of lawyers and social activists dedicated to the cause of common man and particularly to the rights of the children relating to education and health. Advocate M.N. Singh is the Coordinator of the petitioner/organization and is authorized and competent to file and prosecute the present writ petition on behalf of the petitioner. The petitioner is an Organization having Registered Office at C-29, Janyug Apartments, Sector-14 Extension, Rohini, Delhi-110085. It is submitted that Advocates Kusum Sharma, Advocate Anuj Aggarwal and Advocate Rohini Aggarwal are the President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively of the petitioner/organization. The petitioner submits that it has the means to pay costs, if any, imposed by this Hon'ble Court and submits its undertaking to this Hon'ble Court in that regard.

 

6.       The petitioner by the present Public Interest Litigation has highlighted the failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi, Respondent No.1 herein, to prevent unaided recognized private schools of Delhi from admitting children below 4 years age in formal schools. The petitioner has also highlighted the failure on the part of Govt. of NCT of Delhi to ensure that all unaided recognized private schools of Delhi have only one year of pre-primary class in formal schools where children of 4+ age are admitted directly and are not promoted from nursery/preschool. The petitioner has further highlighted the failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to ensure that the children admitted in pre-primary class are not burdened with bags and books. The petitioner has further more highlighted the failure on the part of the Govt. of NCT of Delhi to start pre-primary class in all its schools. The petitioner has also highlighted the failure on the part of Govt. of NCT of Delhi to frame Guidelines in regard to pre-school in terms of Clause 21 of the Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007. It is submitted that the impugned failure on the part of the Respondent No.1 violates the fundamental rights of the children as guaranteed to them under Articles 14, 15, 21, 21-A, 38 & 39 of the Constitution of India read with the provisions of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 and U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

 

7.       The facts of the case, so far as relevant for the purposes of present PIL, are given in brief as under.

 

8.       The petitioner submits that it has earlier filed a PIL (W.P.(C) No. 12490/2006) in this Hon'ble Court highlighting the fact that different unaided recognized private schools in Delhi were applying different age criteria for admission of children in Nursery Classes and sought directions from this Hon'ble Court against the Government to ensure that all these schools must follow uniform age criteria in accordance with the provisions of Section 16 of Delhi School Education Act, 1973 which provides that a child who has not attained the age of 5 years shall not be admitted in Class-I in a recognized school.

 

9.       The petitioner submits that the Govt. of NCT of Delhi filed C.M. No.2293/2007 in the above referred PIL seeking fixation of child's age as 3 years and 6 months for admission in Nursery Classes. It is submitted that the petitioner objected to the relief as sought by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi and submitted that the pre-primary education has not only been recommended by the Kothari Commission but also placed in all the National Policies of Education, 1968, 1986 and 1992. It is submitted that the Government instead of taking pre-primary education as play-way activity, is unfortunately taking it as a part of formal school education. If the contention of the Government that 3 years old child is not matured enough to go to school is correct, all mushrooming play way schools are required to be shut down. In any case, the schools instead of running 2 years pre-primary classes (Nursery & KG) should run only one year pre-primary class and admit children therein of not less than 4 years, as on 1st April.

 

10.     The petitioner submits that this Hon'ble Court vide Order dated March 07, 2007 was pleased to dispose of the aforesaid application of Govt. of NCT of Delhi. The operative part of the said Order is as under:-

 

"26. Considering the gravity of the matter and since the Government has now shown its awareness to the problem, we feel that the issue as to whether the pre-primary school should be of duration of one year only but what would be the proper cut off age for admission in the pre-primary class should be referred to a Committee. We feel in the facts and circumstances of the case, the Ganguli Committee would be most appropriate to consider this questions as they are also involved in similar other issues pertaining to admissions of children to schools. We are also of the considered view that the Ganguli Committee while giving its recommendation(s) to the issues raised by us would also take the opinion and expert views of Two Child Physiologists of repute and a Professor of the Department of Pediatric,AIIMS and if possible Professor Yashpal. The Ganguli Committee should associate State Government and its senior officers in this regard. The Ganguly Committee should also consider the views of the members of the Advisory Board constituted under Section 22 of the Act as also a cross-section of the parents including parents whose children have been admitted at the age of 3+ pursuant to our Order dated 8th December, 2006.

 

27. We would request the Ganguly Committee to try and find out a viable and all comprehensive policy for pre-primary education in Delhi so that admission to the pre-primary class/classes as the case may be is made homogeneous and uniform.

 

28. While giving its recommendation we also expect that the Ganguli Committee would also consider the criteria for admission to pre-primary and primary class in other states of India and also the yardstick adopted internationally. We are of the view that the standard and the yardstick for pre-primary and primary education should be consistent and unvarying, whether it is for Government, Government aided or Private Schools, all over the State of Delhi. We are sure that the State Government which is a party to these proceedings would consider the recommendations of the Ganguli Committee and take steps to evolve a policy for pre-primary and primary education in all schools of Delhi whether Government, Government funded or private schools, all over the State of Delhi is consistent and uniform.

 

29. During the course of arguments, it was submitted that the aforesaid process would be time consuming and therefore it might not be possible to implement the recommendations of the Committee for the ensuing academic year starting from 1st April, 2007. We have no doubt that the members of the Ganguli Committee and others involved in the process of giving their expert opinion would do so at the earliest so that its recommendations can be made applicable even for the academic year starting from 1st April, 2007. However, in case for some reason it is not possible to give its recommendation on or before the 31st of March, 2007, the Committee shall give some interim recommendation which can be made applicable for the ensuing academic year starting from 1st April, 2007. We hope that in giving its recommendations the Committee would bear in mind the fact that the admission process in most of the schools is already complete. We need not mention that the Committee shall give its recommendations after considering the views of all sections including the State Government, Schools and the Parents of the children. We also hope that the convenience of all concerned particularly the parents of the children would be duly considered. The State Government shall upon due consideration of the recommendation of the Committee take all appropriate measures under law to regulate and streamline the process and procedure of admission of children into pre-primary and primary classes of both Government, Government aided and private schools so as to have homogeny, uniformity and equality.

 

30. The application stands disposed of in terms of this Order."

 

A copy of the said Order dated 07.03.2007 is enclosed hereto as Annexure A.

 

11.     The petitioner submits that pursuant to the aforementioned orders of this Hon'ble Court, the Ganguly Committee after taking into consideration various relevant facts and materials prepared its report and recommendations dated 31.03.2007 and submitted the same to Govt. of NCT of Delhi for further action. It is submitted that the Committee has made the following recommendations:-

 

"5.01 Duration of pre-primary Education

Pre-primary education shall uniformly be of one year duration in all the schools of Delhi and it shall be a class immediately prior to Class I. The Committee recommends that this call be uniformly called as Pre-primary Education.

 

5.02 Minimum age and cut off date for admission

A child should have attained four years on or before 31st March of the year of admission to be considered eligible for gaining admission to pre-primary class. Consequently children completing 5 years on or before 31st March of the year of admission would progress to Class I. Thus the cut off date for determining the age of children for purpose of admission shall be 31st March of the year of admission for the academic session starting from 1st April.

 

5.03 Time and Space for Pre-primary Class

One year of Pre-primary education shall become part of all recognized, full-fledged schools, whether upto primary, middle, secondary or senior secondary level. However, the section/sections of pre-primary class shall have separate designated space and ambience even though they may be located in the same campus. Such a provision should ensure that small children feel secure and have their own identity and play space and are not overawed by older children. The school hours will also be different and the Committee feels that the three to four hours of duration daily for five days a week shall be adequate. The Committee also recommends that the pre-primary class may start at a later time according to the convenience if the schools, parents and children.

 

5.04 Common Admission Procedure

The Common Admission Procedure and criteria for deciding the admission of children shall apply to pre-primary class from the academic year 2008-2009. There would be no interview of children nor interaction with parents to select children for admission. Schools should follow the common admission procedure and criteria prescribed by Ganguly Committee, in this regard.

 

5.5 Facilities for children below 4 years.

As mentioned earlier, the one year class of early childhood education that is offered by all recognized schools immediately prior to Class I shall be known as Pre-primary class. Facilities such as Child Day Care Centre, Nursery, Kindergarten, Creche etc. that parents avail of, depending of their needs, shall come under the term: "Pre-school Class/Classes". The Committee recognizes the need for such facilities for the children who are below the age of four. However, such Pre-school classes shall not part of main schools. Such facilities should be provided by the residents of the community as neighbourhood play-schools/day care centres so that the children below the age of four are not forced to commute long distances. Presently exclusive play-schools, nurseries, day care centres and creches are functioning without any regulation and supervision by the Government.

 

It has also been observed that the infrastructural facilities offered by these establishments vary depending on the fee structure, the management, the locality and other factors. Besides the appropriateness and adequacy of physical facilities, what is transacted in terms of activities for the children is also a matter of grave concern. Many of these nursery schools are teaching the curriculum of Class I and even Class II in an effort to get a head start leading to a flourishing 'Alphabet industry'. This is a very unhealthy trend. Hence, efforts should be made to correct it. The committee recommends that there shall be no school bag for carrying any prescribed books in all such pre- pre-school class(es). The children will carry only tiffin box and play material etc. from home to school and back home.

 

To effectively implement this, the Committee recommends setting up a monitoring campaign that may be available by the Govt. of India to regularly establishes supervision of such play schools for children below the age of four.

 

5.06 Year from which the new criteria shall take effect

The revised criteria of duration of pre-primary education, minimum age and cut-off date for admission shall come into effect from the academic year 2008-09. Since admission to the Nursery Class has already been completed in most of the schools of Delhi for the year 2007-08, the Committee recommends that there shall be no further change or modification to the rules and procedures of admission for the current batch of students who are already in school. Any intervention at this stage will cause serious disturbance to the young children and parents. There is no harm if some 3+ children have taken admission in nursery because by the time they go to pre-primary class in the academic year 2008-09, they will be 4+.

 

5.07 Uniformity

All the Private Schools, Government Schools and Government aided schools of Delhi, recognized / affiliated upto primary, middle, secondary or senior secondary level shall uniformly follow the norm of having only one year of pre-primary school from the academic year2008-09, beginning from 01.04.2008.

 

5.08 Managing the Transition

When the new norms of pre-primary education are implemented from the academic year 2008-09, schools will be required to make certain adjustments to respond to new needs created by the reorganization of the pre-primary classes. Firstly, the Government of Delhi will have to arrive at a plan of action and provide adequate resources to start one year of pre-primary class in all the government and government-aided schools of Delhi. Secondly, when the pre-primary class is reduced to one year, private schools having two or three years of pre-primary will have to reorganize and re-allocate resources including teachers. The Committee is aware of this difficulty. The Committee, therefore, strongly recommends that schools should be given the freedom to carry out this process of transition to one year of pre-primary education in a phased manner so that within a period of two to three years i.e. by the year 2010-11 all such schools shall have one year pre-primary class uniformly.

 

5.09 Content and Methodology

In order to carry out the pre-school programme in a proper manner, the curriculum and activities would have to be very different from what is done at the formal education stage and form what obtains in most such schools currently. Besides, holistic and informal pre-school education should also take into account issue of health, nutrition and early childhood development aspects. So the Committee recommends that the content and methodology for pre-primary education should be evolved by experts in the field and the same should be implemented by all the schools. A Committee of experts may be constituted for this purpose and the content and methodology suggested by that Committee may be implemented in all schools from 2008-09. In the interim period, the Committee recommends certain do's and don'ts for pre-primary education. These may be provided to schools for their guidance. To facilitate the implementation of this provision, the Committee has attached some guidelines with this report which may be used by schools till they are provided with more detailed content and methodology.

 

5.10 The Road Ahead

* The unprecedented expansion of Early Childhood Education facilities in the country in general and urban areas like Delhi in particular has neither been uniform nor quality-driven. Care and education of young children at this critical stage can not be merely custodial but must be developmental in nature. In order to streamline this critical stage in a child's education, reliable information and data about the pre school facilities available in Delhi have to be collected. The Directorate of Education, Delhi may take the initiative and conduct a survey of schools of Delhi to ascertain the position with reference to both pre-primary and pre school facilities available to the children of Delhi. After collecting the data, the unserved habitations can be identified and appropriate measures can be taken to provide the requisite facilities.

 

* Experts in ECCE could be involved in developing the necessary guidelines with regard to the infrastructure, trained teachers and supporting staff, content and methodology within a fixed time frame. Apex national organizations like National Council for

Educational Research and Training (NCERT) may be involved who may develop the appropriate content for pre-primary as well as pre school class.

 

* Availability of trained teachers for pre-school and pre-primary education should receive the attention it deserves. So training of teachers, both pre service and in-service, must receive greater focus. Apex national institutions like National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and other organizations providing quality Kindergarten and Montessori education, may be requested to evolve a module of teacher training specially meant for this stage of education for children. It may be necessary to even revise the existing curriculum of pre service teacher training courses in different institutions.

 

* Maintaining a good adult-child ration at this stage is very important. So while changing over to one year of pre-primary education in future, redeployment of teachers should be made in such a manner that good adult-child ratio is maintained.

 

* While expanding the facility of pre-primary education to all the government and government aided schools, attention should be paid to quality parameters. The pre-primary education offered in the government schools should be of comparable quality so that the children coming form the sections of society that these schools are serving get a solid foundation for all round development.

 

Drawing up norms and standards for pre-primary and pre school education, evolving a responsive and responsible monitoring mechanism and providing appropriate curricular inputs with teacher training facilities are the main areas that deserve immediate attention. A good beginning can be made in Delhi if all the educational institutions including schools come together and make a concerted effort to raise the standards of Early Childhood Care and Education. Our young children deserve the best and Delhi ahs the potential to deliver. If this vision could be realized in a fixed time frame, it will set in motion a change process in other parts of the country that will lead to a total transformation of Early Childhood Care and Education for the children of our nation."

 

A true copy of the Ashok Ganguly Committee Report is enclosed herewith and marked as Annexure –B.

 

12.     The petitioner submits that the said Ashok Ganguly Committee observations and recommendations as incorporated in the said report are child friendly and directed to protect the rights and interests of the children. These recommendations are bound to have far reaching effect not only in the education of children in Delhi but all over the country.

 

13.     The petitioner submits that this Hon'ble Court vide Orders dated 04.04.2007 asked the Delhi Government (Respondent No.1) to consider the Committee Report and take a conscious and considered decision. Thereafter, the Respondent No.1 filed its Affidavit dated 05.09.2007 whereby the Respondent no.1 conveyed to this Hon'ble court that they have accepted the entire recommendations of the Ashok Ganguly Committee and undertook to implement the same from the academic year 2008-09.

 

A copy of the said Delhi Government's affidavit dated 05.09.2007 is enclosed herewith and marked as Annexure-C.

 

14.     The petitioner submits that this Hon'ble Court accepting the said affidavit of the Director of Education, passed a final Order dated 26.08.2007 disposing of the said PIL. The said Order is reproduced as under:-

 

"O R D E R

26.09.2007

1.       The Ganguly Committee has submitted a report pursuant to our order dated 7th March, 2007. The said report was submitted by the Ganguly Committee on 31st March, 2007. After the said report was received, a copy of the said report was furnished to the Government of NCT of Delhi to consider the recommendations made and to take a decision in accordance with law. Consequent thereto, the Government considered the recommendations made by the Ganguly Committee and all other available materials and discussed the matter with the Delhi School Education Advisory Board.

 

2.       The proposals in the Ganguly Committee report and comments of the Delhi School Education Advisory Board were examined by the Cabinet on 3rd September, 2007.

 

3.       An affidavit is now filed by the Directorate of Education and Government of NCT of Delhi from which it is established that the Government in its meeting dated 3rd September, 2007 has approved and accepted the following proposals:-

 

"(i) That there should be uniformity in nomenclature and duration of pre- primary education across all private, government and local bodies. The cabinet further approved that in all schools of Delhi the pre- primary education should uniformly be of one year duration and the same should be the class immediately prior to Class I, which will be uniformity known as pre- primary.

 

(ii) That the cut off date for the calculation of age should be 31st March of the year of admission. A child should have completed four years on or before 31st March of the year of admission to be considered eligible for gaining admission to pre- primary class. A child should have completed a minimum of five years on or before 31st March of the year of admission to be considered eligible for gaining admission to Class I. The cut off date of 31st March will be of the academic year for which admission will be taken.

 

(iii) While one year class of early childhood education would be offered by all recognized schools immediately prior to Class-I, the schools which have infrastructural facilities may be allowed to open pre- school classes for children below the age of four years. However, these pre- school classes will not be part of main school nor shall these be treated as feeder school to pre-primary class of the school. The children in pre-school should be from the immediate neighborhood. There should be no school bag for carrying any prescribed books in all such pre-school classes.

 

(iv) That the Department of Education will establish a monitoring mechanism in each District to ensure that all recommendations are effectively implemented and that children of pre- school should not get preference over other children for admission in pre- primary class. The Department of Education would law down regulatory mechanism for pre- school education.

(v) That the Department of Education will introduce one year pre- primary in all Govt. schools within three years. This will require addition of class- rooms and recruitment of teachers. There are 365 Sarvodaya Vidyalalyas. Introducing one section of 40 students in pre- primary in 365 Sravodaya Vidalayas will required 365 class rooms and 365 Assistant Teachers. If the cost of construction of a room be taken between Rs.2-2.50 lacs the cost of construction would be approximately be Rs.8 crores and another Rs.4 crores per annum may be needed for teachers. So an approximate expenditure of nearly s.15 crores may be allowed to be incurred for schools run by Department of Education. Additional funding to start these classes in MCD schools may be provided."

 

4.       It is also stated in the said affidavit that the Directorate of Education would take appropriate action and measures to implement the aforesaid proposals at the earliest before the start of the next academic session, i.e. 2008-2009. Since admission process for 2007-08 is already over, the said proposals cannot be implemented for the current academic session and the Government is justified in taking a decision that the aforesaid proposal would be implemented only from the academic session 2008-2009.

 

5.       Learned counsels for different schools have pointed out that there could be scope of mushrooming of play schools and that there could be difficulties in the transitional phase.

 

6.       We are of the considered opinion that the aforesaid apprehension is mis-placed. It is stated on behalf of the Government of NCT of Delhi that for implementing the aforesaid proposals, some guidelines may have to be issued by the Directorate of Education and while doing so, suggestions given by the Ganguly Committee, which is enclosed with the report shall also be considered. It is stated that the Government will ensure that the transition is smooth and with out causing any inconvenience to the parents and students. There should be no difficulty for the schools to get the aforesaid decision of the Government implemented which has been taken in the interest of the students. Play schools are required and necessary and can be set up only as per law.

 

7.       The Government has taken a decision, which is conveyed through an affidavit filed before us, on the basis of the recommendations of the Ganguly Committee, therefore, nothing survives in this petition and the same stands disposed of.

 

Dated: 26.09.2007

Sd/- Hon'ble Chief Justice

Sd/- Justice Sanjeev Khanna"

 

A copy of the said Order dated 26.09.2007 is enclosed herewith and marked asAnnexure-D.

 

15.     The petitioner submits that thereafter the respondent No.1 issued Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007 in respect of admission procedure for pre-primary classes in the recognized schools in Delhi.

 

A copy of the said Order, 2007 is also enclosed hereto as Annexure E.

 

16.     The petitioner invites attention of this Hon'ble Court to the relevant clauses 3 and 21 of the said Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007and the same are reproduced as under:-

 

"3. Within a period of three years from the date of coming into force of this Order, every school shall introduce a pre-primary class for the admission of children, who have completed the age of minimum four years as on the 31st March of the year in which admission is being sought:

Provided that no admission shall be made in standard one unless the child has completed the age of minimum four years as on the 31st March of the year in which admission is being sought.

 

21. There shall be one year of pre-primary class in every school. A class of one year duration preceding this called pre-school may be set-up as a neighbouring pre-school and the Education Department shall frame the guidelines in this regard, in consultation with experts. The schools which are already running pre-school class may continue to do so subject to the following conditions:-

(a) Every child admitted to pre-school shall be of minimum of three years by 31st March of the year in which admission is being sought;

(b) The schools shall frame their own guidelines for admission to pre-school class and the same criteria as for admission to the pre-primary level may be adopted, until such time as the guidelines for pre-schools are framed;

(c) Any such school, which has a pre-school class from the session commencing in April 2008, shall move those students to the pre-primary class for the session commencing in April 2009. After that, the final norms to be notified for the pre-school class shall be followed.

 

Explanation --- For the purposes of this clause, the age stipulated for entry into standard one, pre-primary and pre-school class are the minimum ages and there is no bar to children older than the ages specified in this clause being given admission to these classes."

 

17.     The petitioner submits that due to the intervention of this Hon'ble  Court in the above referred PIL, the Govt of NCT of Delhi came up with the above referred statutory regulations, namely, Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Class) Order, 2007 primarily laying down the criteria of admission including minimum age of entry in a formal unaided private school. It is submitted that the Govt. of NCT of Delhi has categorically accepted the recommendations of Ashok Ganguly Committee regarding minimum age of 4 years for entry of a child into a formal school education system. However, the same has not been implemented till date, despite a provision in the Delhi Government's regulations to implement the same from year 2009-10. This happened because of lethargy attitude on the part of the Government to frame guidelines for pre-school education. Because of the fact that the Government has failed to frame guidelines for the pre-school education, as required under the regulations, the provisions regarding the implementation of minimum age of entry i.e.4 years could not be implemented till date.

 

18.     The petitioner submits that it has sent a letter dated 10.11.2010 addressed to the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Delhi requesting her to intervene into the matter keeping in mind the various orders having been passed by this Hon'ble Court and the recommendations of Ashok Ganguly Committee on the minimum age of entry in formal school. However, nothing has been done by the Government in the matter of above said letter.

 

A copy of the said letter dated 19.11.2010 is enclosed hereto as Annexure F.

 

19.     The petitioner submits that it has filed a Contempt Petition being [Cont. Cas (C) No.870/2010, Social Jurist, a Civil Rights Group v. Rakesh Mehta] in this Hon'ble Court complaining that despite directions dated 26.09.2007 of this Hon'ble Court in PIL (Writ Petition (C) No.12490/2006 that the minimum age of any child for admission in a formal school from the academic year 2008-09 should be 4+ years, the Respondent No.1 who was responsible for implementation of the directions of this Hon'ble Court had deliberately and intentionally disobeyed the same.

 

20.     The petitioner submits that the said Contempt Petition came up for hearing before Hon'ble Mr. Justice G. S. Sistani of this Hon'ble Court and the Hon'ble Judge was pleased to hold that he did not find any violation of the orders passed by the Division Bench and accordingly no grounds were made out to entertain the contempt petition and the same was dismissed.

 

A copy of the said Order dated 11.01.2011 is enclosed herewith and marked asAnnexure-G.

 

21.     The petitioner respectfully submits that all the unaided recognized private schools are going ahead with the admission of 3 plus (below 4 yrs) year children in nursery class, which is being wrongly treated as a part and parcel of the formal school. It also clearly reveals that the admission in nursery class at 3 + age (below 4 years age) is treated as admission in the formal school system which is illegal, anti-child rights, goes against the principle of  the "best interest of the child"  and unconstitutional. It is submitted that the children of 3 plus age admitted in the nursery class are promoted to pre-primary class and thereafter to class I. It is submitted that by not implementing the provision regarding minimum age of entry of a child in formal school system, the Government of NCT of Delhi has not only violated the letters and spirit of the orders having been passed by this Hon'ble Court but its action is also anti-child. It is an established fact that permitting a child to enter into the formal school before the age of 4 years is not in the interest of the child. It only reflects total insensitiveness on the part of the Government towards the child's interest and rights.

 

22.     The petitioner submits that in the last academic year i.e. 2011-12, almost all unaided recognized private schools in Delhi, provided entry to the children of 3+ age (below 4 years age) in Nursery Class in their formal schools and those children would now be promoted in the coming academic year 2012-13 in the next class i.e. Pre-primary Class. It is submitted that in terms of the Orders passed by this Hon'ble Court in the PIL (W.P. (C) No.12490/2006, these students are not entitled to be promoted to next class i.e. Pre-primary, in the unaided recognized private schools. It is respectfully submitted that it has clearly been held by this Hon'ble Court that this Pre-School Class will not be a part of main school nor shall this be treated as feeder class to pre-primary class of the schools.

 

23.     The petitioner's complaint in the present writ petition is that despite clear orders of this Hon'ble Court, recommendations of Ganguly Committee and the Government's Regulation of 2007, the unaided recognized private schools have been admitting children below 4 years in its formal school system and unless they are prevented to do so, they would continue to do so even in the coming academic year of 2012-13. It is submitted that the admission process for the admission in the unaided primary school at the entry point is likely to start from the next month of this year.

 

24.     The petitioner submits that the aforesaid inaction on the part of the Respondent No.1 is causing continuous injury and harassment to the tiny tots who ought not to be subjected to any formal education system. Such inaction on the part of the Respondent No.1 is bound to have adverse affect on the mental and physical health of the tiny tots. Unfortunately, the Respondent no.1 is insensitive to the rights and well being of the tiny tots. It would not be exaggeration to say that the Respondent No.1 has colluded with the unaided recognized private schools of Delhi in exploiting the parents and their wards.

 

25.     The petitioner submits that the children admitted in nursery / pre-primary class are not required to be burdened with bag and books but the school are burdening them with the same with impunity which is totally undesirable, anti-child rights and goes against the principle of the "best interest of the child".

 

26.     The Petitioner submits that the impugned failures on the part of the Government of NCT of Delhi are violative of the fundamental rights of the children guaranteed to them under Articles 14, 15, 21. 21-A, 38 and 39 of the Constitution of India, contrary to the letters and spirit of the Orders having been passed by this Hon'ble Court in the above referred earlier PIL, contrary to the provisions of The Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-Primary Class) Order, 2007, anti-child rights, goes against the principle of the best of the child, contrary to the provisions of The Delhi School Education Act, 1973 and also contrary to the provisions of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

 

27.     The petitioner has not filed any similar petition either in the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India or in any Hon'ble High Courts in India.

 

28.     The Petitioner submits that it has no other efficacious alternate remedy except to approach this Hon'ble Court by way of present Public Interest Litigation.

 

29.     That the annexures annexed to the writ petition are true and correct copy of its originals.

 

PRAYER

30.     In the premise aforesaid, the petitioner most respectfully prays that this Hon'ble Court may be pleased to:-

 

(a)     issue any appropriate writ, order or direction directing the Government of NCT of Delhi to prevent unaided recognized private schools of Delhi from admitting the children below 4 years of age in formal schools from the academic year 2012-13 and onwards;

 

(b)     issue any appropriate writ, order or direction directing the Government of NCT of Delhi to forthwith frame Guidelines in regard to pre-school education in terms of Clause 21 of The Recognized Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-Primary Class) Order, 2007;

 

(c)      issue any appropriate writ, order or direction directing the Respondent No.1 to ensure that all the unaided recognized Private Schools of Delhi have only one year of Pre-primary class in formal schools where children of 4 years of age are admitted directly and are not promoted from nursery / pre-school from the academic year 2012-13 and onwards;

 

(d)     issue any appropriate writ, order or direction directing the Respondent No. 1 to ensure that the children admitted in Pre-primary class in un-aided recognized private schools are not burdened with bags and books from the academic year 2012-13 and onwards;

(e)      issue any appropriate writ, order or direction directing the Respondent No. 1 to start pre-primary class in all its schools;

 

(f)      pass any such other or further order or direction as this Hon'ble Court may in the facts and circumstances of the present case deem fit and appropriate, in favour of the petitioner; and

 

(g)     allow the present PIL with costs.

 

 

 

Ashok Agarwal & Khagesh B. Jha

Advocates for the Petitioner

483, Block-II, Lawyers Chambers,

Delhi High Court, New Delhi – 110003

Ph: 23384000, Mob-9811101923

 

New Delhi

Dated: 31.10.2011

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