[eebill] RE: Kids Interview Case

Dear Ashok,

We have in High Court since December 2003 a clutch of matters seeking enforcement of statutory Delhi Master Plan Equal Access Neighbourhood School System / Common School System. Please see: http://plan.architexturez.net/site/FILES/schools/mpisg

I gather, from your preference for policy / suggestions, that you all consider the statutory DMP provisions for neighbourhood school system inadequate. I would be very interested in this critique.

Best regards,
Gita Dewan Verma, Planner



From: "Ashok" <[email protected]>
To: "Gita Diwan Verma TownPlanner" <[email protected]>, "Ghanshyam JUDAV" <[email protected]>, "Gerry Pinto UNICEF" <[email protected]>, "Geeta" <[email protected]>, "gaysu arvind" <[email protected]>
Subject: Kids Interview Case
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 08:57:28 +0530

Dear Friend,

This affidavit has been filed in the High Court on 23.10.2004 through Advocate Ashok Agarwal and the matter is coming up for hearing on 01.11.2004. The case involved the question of validity of subjecting kids of 3+ age and their parents to test and interview for admission of the kids in LKG/UKG and class one by private schools. The question of implementing Neghbourhood School Policy is also involved in this case. We request you to kindly send your suggestions and the material in support of such suggestions to be placed before the High Court.

With regards, Social Jurist Team. (24.10.2004)



IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
L.P.A. NO. 196 OF 2004



IN THE MATTER OF:

SHRI RAKESH GOEL AND OTHERS ... APPELLANTS



VERSUS



MONTFORT SCHOOL AND OTHERS ...RESPONDENTS



SUGGESIONS BY WAY OF AFFIDAVIT ON BEHALF OF

THE PUBLIC STUDY GROUP ON CABE COMMITTEES



I, Radhika Menon, Secretary, Public Study Group (PSG) on CABE (Central Advisory Board of Education) Committees, c/o Council for Social Development, 53, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi-110003 (Phone No. 24615383, 24611700), do hereby solemnly affirm and state as under: -



I say that I am the Secretary of the Public Study Group on CABE Committees and I am authorized and competent to swear this affidavit on behalf of the said Group.



1. The Public Study Group on CABE is a group of academics, educationists, researchers and social activists who have come together to support and strengthen the recently constituted CABE committees on educational matters including the common school system and the free and compulsory education bill, by collecting and collating data, research evidences, experiences, policy documents, constitutional and other legal provisions. It is submitted that while PSG is enlisting cooperation and support from concerned citizens; its activities are being coordinated and guided by a core group consisting of the following members: Dr. Sarwat Ali, Lecturer, Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Jamila Millia Islamia; Mr. Somiya Dutta, BJVJ activist and environment education; Dr. Anita Ghai, Reader in psychology, Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University; Mr. Madan Mohan Jha, Joint Secretary (on study leave), M/O HRD and researcher at Oxford University; Mr. Ravi Kumar, Fellow, Council for Social Development; Mr. Sanjeev Mathur, BJVJ activist and cultural worker; Dr. Benard D' Mellow, Senior Consultant, Planning Commission; Ms. Radhika Menon, Ph.D scholar at Zakir Hussain Centre for Educational Studies, JNU; Ms. Madhu Prasad, Reader in philosophy, Zakir Hussain College, Delhi University; Professor Anil Sadgopal, Department of Education, Delhi University and senior fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and Dr. Vijendra Sharma, Reader in Physics, Delhi University.



2. That having seen the media report that this Hon'ble Court is looking into the matter of interviews and selection of young children and/or their parents, and the Court has called upon the concerned citizens to submit their view points, we are filing this affidavit to argue against any form of selection or interview or interactions either with young children or with their parents being done by the city's private schools. We are also making some suggestions for consideration by this Hon'ble Court.



3. That at the outset, we would like to submit that the matter relates to the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 (as modified in 1992). The policy is committed to take 'effective measures' 'in the direction of the common school system recommended in the 1968 policy'. The relevant portion of the NPE is reproduced below:



"3.2. The concept of a National System of Education implies that, up to a given level, all students, irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, have access to education of comparable quality. To achieve this, the Government will initiate appropriately funded programmes. Effective measure will be taken in the direction of the Common School System recommended in the 1968 Policy."





The 1968 national policy states as under:



"Equalization of Educational Opportunity: (b) 'To promote social cohesion and national integration the Common School System as recommended by the Education Commission should be adopted. Efforts should be made to improve standard of education in general school. All special schools like public schools should be required to admit students on the basis of merit and also to provided a prescribed proportion of free-studentships to prevent segregation of social classes. This will not, however, affect the rights of minorities under Article 30 of the Constitution".



4. That the 'question of merit' relates to children at higher stages but for the young children who are just to begin their schooling, the education commission recommended for the Neghbourhood Schools (NS), which the governments are bound to implement. The commission's recommendation on the needs and concept of the NS is reproduced:



"10.19 The Neighbourhood Schools. We drew attention earlier to the social segregation that now takes place in our primary and secondary schools and pointed out that such segregation should be eliminated if education is to be made a powerful instrument of national development in general, and social and national integration in particular. From this point of view, we recommend the ultimate adoption of the 'neighbourhood school concept' first at the lower primary stage and than at the higher primary. The neighbourhood school concept implies that each school should be attended by all children in the neighbourhood irrespective of caste, creed, community, religion, economic condition or social status, so that there would be no segregation in schools."



The commission further said that such neighbourhood schools would provide 'good' education to children, 'because sharing life with common people is an essential ingredient of good education'. It is also stated that 'the establishment of such schools will compel rich, privileged and powerful classes to take an interest in the system of public education.'



5. That the 'Neghbourhood School' has been a part of the national policy for over thirty-five years and the Court might consider ordering the authorities to implement this policy. Under the concept and policy of the NS, the schools should not entertain applications of the parents from distant places. The small kids traveling from distant places go through a lot of physical and mental fatigue while commuting between residences and schools, apart from unusual increase in the traffic, expenses and pollution. It is submitted that on November 18, 1997, in a tragic incident, a school bus carrying children fell down in the river Yamuna resulting in death of as many as 30 school kids, which would not have happened, had the authorities strictly implemented the neighbour school policy.



6. That it is submitted that under the Delhi School Education Act and Rules, 1973, the private schools must admit children only from the locality and within a maximum distance of 3 km. Hence, school should entertain applications from outside the locality only if sufficient children are not available in the neighbourhood. A reference is made to rule 50(ii) of the DSE Rules, which expressly mandates that no private school shall be recognized or continued to be recognized by the appropriate authorities unless the school fulfills condition that " subject to the provisions of the clause (1) of Article 30 of the Constitution of India, the school serves a real need of the locality and is not likely to affect adversely the enrolment in a nearby school, which has already been recognized by the appropriate authority." The Hon'ble Court might consider enforcing the said Act and the Rules, and also consider reducing the distance so that the neighbourhood school concept and policy is enforced in letter and spirit.



7. That it is further submitted that while allotting the lands to the private schools, the DDA and the L & DO have given conditions inter- alia that "The society shall not refuse admission to the residents of the locality".



8. That it is submitted that the government had appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Acharya Ramamurti, a well-known educationist with other renowned members, to examine various aspects of the 1986 national education policy, in 1990. The committee strongly supported the neighbourhood school concept and called for making of essential legislation to dispense with the early selection of young children by private schools.



9. That the central government had also appointed a committee headed by Professor Yash Pal in 1993 'to reduce the academic burden on school students'. The committee in its report at paragraph 5 (a) has said, " The practice of holding tests and interviews for admission to nursery be abolished". The group constituted by the central government to 'examine the feasibility of implementation of the recommendation' of the Yash Pal committee has since accepted this recommendation of the committee. It is submitted that most private schools in the guise of 'interactions with parents', in fact violates the spirit of the Yash Pal committee report in as much as they indulge in 'observing' children and ask them questions while parents undergo the process of 'interactions'; thereby they draw erroneous inferences on the qualification for admission, or rejection of the kids.



10. That it is understood that the Maharashtra State Government had constituted the Ram Joshi Committee on selection and interview of children at the early stage, and the committee recommended against any such interviews and selection.



11. That the selection without any transparent objective criteria would lead to a denial of equal opportunity and would perhaps get hit by the Article 14 of the Constitution. It is understood, that the Unnikrishnan Judgment has extended this Article to the private institutions as an 'extended arm of the State'.



12. That there is no evidence of selection and sorting of young children on any criterion, much less on the basis of background of their parents, in any developed and democratic countries. In England, children used to be selected for different types of schools at age of 11 until 1960s, but the practice has since been dispensed with by the introduction of the 'comprehensive schools', and empirical evidences confirm that overall school standard has improved with mixing of children.



13. It is submitted that the aim of schools has been to gauze or test children's 'intelligence' or 'talent' or 'merit' either interviewing or observing them, or indirectly by 'interacting' with parents. The accurate identification and assessment of intelligence even by way of the famous IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests have been problematic and questionable. The whole notion of measuring intelligence has been controversial for the whole of the twentieth century, and in the early twenty first century the literature demonstrates that the whole concept is still highly controversial. The most tests are based on three assumptions. First, there are 'things' (for example intelligence, social behaviors) that could be accurately measured. Second, they measure what they are expected to measure and third, the measurements could make accurate prediction of child's performance, achievement and future. These tests, interviews and interactions totally disregard the social and environmental factors and context while making measurements and drawing inferences.



It is further submitted that the goal of the intelligence test, first developed by Binet in 1905, was to plan for the education of the child in a regular school and not to reject them, sent out and segregate. The concept of IQ became a highly political concept, in particular, used to denigrate ethnic, racial and social groups. R. J. Herrnstein and C. Murray published 'The Bell Curve' in America in 1994. Following this, a group of sociologists of the University of California at Berkeley published the 'Inequality by Design' in 1996 to show how the social environment and conscious policy mold inequality. Sally Tomlinson in England has written how these tests, IQ in particular, have been used as a mechanism for legitimating of inequality and sending children to segregated special schools. Continuing with the arguments against narrow interpretation of intelligence, the American educationist H. Gardener published in 1993 his theory of 'multiple intelligence' (spatial, musical, kinesthetic, inter-personal and intra- personal, in addition to the traditional double intelligence of linguistics and logical) derived on the basis of meaning of intelligence in different cultures and observing the capabilities of children with disabilities.



It is submitted that these materials are submitted before Hon'ble Court to affirm that in the developed countries after a series of researches and studies all forms of tests and selection before entry into schools have been dispensed with as they neither justify any pedagogical and educational purpose nor are they in accordance with the basic democratic principle of equality in opportunity for accessing schools an early stage.



14. That it submitted that a child should not suffer because of the 'performance' or 'background' of his/her parents. This violates his/her 'human rights' as inequality is in-built into the system. It will exclude and deprive admissions to a large number of children perceived to be 'disabled'- physical or intellectual. It is understood that affidavits have been filed on behalf of the schools that interviews/interactions (with parents and children) are required to detect 'disabilities' and 'learning disabilities'. This seems giving a big 'market' to private testers and assessors of 'learning disabilities'. It is submitted that in developed countries, the theory of learning disability and special needs is being contested and the children are encouraged to learn together in inclusive settings in regular schools. In India, a large number of 'disabled' children are studying in ordinary schools (census 2001 gives their literacy rate of 54.5%). This practice of rejecting children on the ground of disability or sending them to 'special schools' (which do not exist in India in a very large number, and worldwide they are being closed and phased out) would deprive a large number of children from 'good' education after getting declared as 'learning disabled', apart from putting them under severe stigma at a very young age. Such exclusion would go against the government policy, the Persons with Disabilities Act; and the Salamanca Statement of the UNESCO, which calls for 'inclusive education' for children to which India is a signatory.



15. That it is submitted that in the first admission of a child in an educational institution, no demand can be made for a level of achievement that could be said to justify a `selection'. The sole purpose of the admission is to introduce the child into the formal system of education. The only requirement for this, according to pedagogical principles the world over, is that the child be at an age at which this introduction can be consider appropriate. The so-called `selection' procedure introduces spurious criteria for rejection of children, with the accompanying trauma for the child. The only thing the child `learns' from this earliest encounter is that she has `failed' to enter the school, though it is no fault of the child. In fact, it is the school, which has failed to cope intelligently with the problem of large number of applications and limited seats. Admission by draw of lot, and not so-called `selection', is the answer. It does not stigmatize or penalize a child for what is in fact the school's failure. It is submitted that the drawing of lot should not be linked with destiny, as it is an accepted principle when selection has to be made from among equals. The argument that drawing lot would deprive a school from taking mixed and diverse groups of children is also statistically incorrect. In fact, this practice would bring in far more diversity in schools. In addition, it would completely eliminate bias, favors and patronage given by many schools in name of admission.


16. That, we in our respectful submission, would like to make the following suggestions to reduce the number of applications that schools are flooded with, which prompt them to resort to selection and sorting of children causing tremendous psychological pressure and stigma on children as well as their parents: -



· Schools should follow the neighbourhood policy and principles; reduce the area to 1km or even less than that, to automatically reduce the number of applications.



· Schools should not ask non-essential questions in the registration/application form (like parents job, salary, car brand, and 'what you can do for schools?' etc). This would reduce bias from the principal/selectors mind.



· Schools should conduct a transparent draw of lots for limited/reduced number of seats.



· Children should not be brought to schools when parents are called for drawing lot or 'interactions', in case such limited interactions become unavoidable.



· In case Hon'ble Court feels that some limited selection is inevitable, the responsibility for distributing seats could be given to the Resident Welfare Association or groups/committees specially constituted for this purpose.



· For children excess of seats available in neighbourhood schools, government could be asked to open more schools, and even private groups and non-government organizations could be asked to start primary schools.





Deponent



VERIFICATION

Verified at New Delhi on this 23rd day of October 2004 that the facts as stated in the above affidavit are correct and true to my knowledge and nothing material has been concealed there from.





Deponent


























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