Delhi HC no to interfere in toddlers age-criteria

New Delhi: Three-plus-toddlers can be admitted to pre-nursery classes with the Delhi High Court today refusing to interfere with the age criteria and admission process in pre-schools saying "inclusive elementary education" is needed for all children.

"Denying informal education to three-plus children would be discriminatory and counter productive," a bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri said while dismissing the plea of an NGO that only children of four years and above be admitted in schools.

The judgement came on a PIL filed by the NGO, Social Jurist, which had sought court`s intervention in restraining private unaided schools in the national capital from admitting three plus kids in pre-school classes.

The bench, also comprising Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, differed with the findings of the Ganguly Committee which had said that children below the age of four years should not be burdened with the schooling process.

"We do not agree with the findings of Ganguly Committee as even the Right to Education Act provides for the inclusive elementary education for all the children since their conception to eight years of age," the bench said.

It clarified that schools having pre-school (nursery) or pre-primary classes at entry levels may continue with their respective admission procedure.

The NGO in its petition had referred to the inconsistent age criteria and admission process adopted by different private schools here.

In its petition, the NGO had pointed out that some schools have been admitting three plus children, while others have been taking in only four plus children and this has led to creation of two entry levels.

The High Court, however, refused to interfere with the age criteria saying elementary education was necessary for all the children and schools may stick to their respective admission procedure.

The NGO, through its petition, had challenged December 16 order of the Delhi government that allowed schools to admit children in nursery classes at the age of three instead of four.

It had said the Delhi Education Act prescribed four years of age for admission, but under the garb of Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009, the government has allowed private schools to admit children at the age of three itself.

The NGO had said the government was directed by the court in 2007, to frame guidelines on the issue but it has failed to do so till date.

It had alleged that the December 16 order of the Directorate of Education (DoE) of Delhi government was violative of an earlier judgement of the High Court, which said no child below the age of four years would be admitted for formal schooling.

The city government, however, had said the guidelines were as per the law and had requested the court to dismiss the PIL.