The movie Little Miss Sunshine revolves around a little girl’s quest to win a coveted beauty contest. What follows is hilarity and a poignant depiction of stark reality. Little children nowadays are expected to be like beauty pageant contestants: groomed, prim and proper. There is a running joke amongst the parents of children looking to get admission in the nursery schools of Delhi that getting admission in nursery class is much more difficult than clearing the civil services exam nowadays. Not only do children have to jump through hoops at a tender young age by reciting a long list of irrelevant facts they also have to appear in the words of a leading school ‘potentially successful human beings’. With the Delhi Police reportedly having unearthed more than 300 fake nursery admissions through the quota for poor students in top Delhi schools, the scenario of nursery admissions gets even more deplorable.
The principal of Bal Bharti School, Pitampura, has been interrogated and her office raided on Tuesday. Moreover, cops have said that the school authorities could be involved in this racket and claimed that some schools took “unusually long” to furnish admission data. Further investigation into the alleged fake admissions scam under the contentious and controversial Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota has revealed that the mastermind, Mukesh Sharma, is a post graduate degree holder in zoology. Two of his brothers are also teachers, one being employed in Delhi University, and the other at a private school. His elder brother is the principal of a leading private school in Rohini.
Needless to say, this is indicative of the perniciousness of the education system at both the elementary and primary school level. This appalling scenario exists despite the fact that the Delhi High Court in its prescient wisdom had previously directed private schools in Delhi to make records, including admission details, available in public domain - an order that was supposed to force schools to become more transparent in their functioning. Needless to say, the opposite has happened. In that order Justice Rajiv <g data-gr-id="36">Shakdher</g> had passed the order on a petition filed by the Delhi State Public Schools Management Association, which had challenged the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) December 2010 order directing schools to make their records public in both English and Hindi. It is a well-known fact that the implementation of the economically weaker quota in the capitals school remains easier said than done.
A landmark study by leading educationists and economists Pankaj Jain and Ravindra Dhokla found that even an allocation of 6% of the gross domestic product to the education budget would not be sufficient to fund universal school education until the very distant future if the government school system is used as the only instrument. The only way to meet the Right to Education obligation is to rely on low-cost private schools as a significant instrument and thrust of the government education policy. On the contrary, the proposed RTE bill introduced provisions that would oppose low-cost private schools. Therefore, the legislation for RTE needs to be modified and framed with specific provisions for private-public partnerships. Unless and until this lacuna in public policy is not bridged such scams will continue to hound the dreams of a robust elementary and primary education system.