[eebill] FW: Kids Interview Case [from Social Jurist]

// news report at: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=112998

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: Tue, 4 Jan 2005 15:15:21 +0530

Dear friend,

This affidavit on behalf of Social Jurist has been filed in Delhi High Court on 03.01.2005.

Ashok Agarwal

L.P.A. No. 196 of 2004

In the matter of:

Shri Rakesh Goel and Others ..Appellants


Montfort School & Others ..Respondents

Affidavit on behalf of Social Jurist, A Lawyers

Group in response to the suggestions filed on

behalf of the Learned Attorney General of India

I, Ritu Jain, Advocate d/o Shri S.K. Jain, aged 32 years, Coordinator, Social Jurist, A lawyers group, 479, Lawyers' Chambers, Western Wing, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi-110054, do hereby solemnly affirm and state as under:-

1. I say that the Social Jurist is a group of lawyers dedicated to the cause of the children and the working people. It is submitted that the Social Jurist in the past five years has taken up several issues of public importance pertaining to the right and equal opportunity in education of the children through public interest litigations and also through other democratic ways available to them. It is submitted that the Social Jurist has a bonafide interest in this matter, as the outcome of the present litigation would affect the right and question of equality in education not only in Delhi but also in the entire country. I also say that I am fully conversant with facts and circumstances of the present case and I am competent and authorized to file the present affidavit on behalf of the Social Jurist.

2. I say that before giving his suggestions, the learned A.G. has given a gist of affidavits filed by some individuals and organisations. I submit that basically three points have been made in these affidavits. First, in some affidavits, it has been admitted that children are being tested and interviewed. Second, in many cases, it has been asserted that schools have 'right to choose' children. Third, in most of the cases 'interactions/interviews' with parents have been argued for and the idea of draw of lots have been declared 'unscientific' and 'not feasible'.

3. I say that even the AG in his submissions has negated testing and interviewing children as it is totally unreliable and it makes children suffer trauma and psychological scare. Hence, it may be banned forthwith.

4. I further say that 'right to choose children' by schools cannot become discriminatory as school is a public institution and it has to follow a transparent, non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory policy of admission in conformity with the law of the land and national education policies. Hence, the argument that schools have 'right to choose' children as parents have 'right to choose' schools do not have any merit and may be dismissed.

5. I submit that interactions and interviews as being done in schools are nothing more than ways to show favoritism and bias to certain individuals or category of parents. Schools do not announce any transparent criteria for such interactions; they ask children to be brought along, who are either separated to be 'observed' causing tremendous trauma and mental torture to the young kids, or in many cases they are made to sit between the two parents and watch them being interviewed and grilled. In the affidavits, it has not been clarified how schools short-list the parents to be interviewed. The favoritism and arbitrariness begins from there itself. If the parents are to be interviewed, why schools ask for the children to be brought on that day needs to be explained.

6. I say that, before we give our comments on the suggestions made by the learned A.G., these suggestions have not been given after consulting a range of educationists and educational policy analysts and practitioners in the country. Only two persons from Britain, two psychologists and one working with an international agency have been consulted. I submit that such an important issue has to be decided in the light of a wider consultation and in the light of the national policy, the constitutional rights, social justice and the principle of equal educational opportunity for each child.

7. I say that this is a major policy, constitutional and educational issue and ought to be considered accordingly. That judging of intelligence at any age is highly contested worldwide. It is not an inherent qualification acquired by a child by birth or otherwise. It is a social and cultural construct, a time variant and should not be guiding admission process of a child into schools at any age, and definitely not up to age 14, up to which the child has equal fundamental right to education.

8. I say that the countries across the world respecting the principle of equality and the human rights of a child do not resort to any type of sorting or selection at any stage of school age. In our country, it should be banned up to age 14, at least, as this is the age up to which every child has equal fundamental right to education.

9. I say that the best option is to limit or notify a school's neighbourhood so that number of applications is drastically reduced. This option has been argued for by the Public Study Group consisting of the academics and educational experts constituted to help the committees of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE). The government should open more schools so that children in every neighborhood have sufficient places and number of applications is not very high.

10. I say that Nehru's 'scientific temper' approach, as referred to in the submissions filed on behalf of the learned A.G., has to be appreciated appropriately. The way private schools conduct interviews, tests or interactions are neither scientific nor would it inculcate scientific temper in young kids, because it begins with a bias to the extent of favoritism and negates the basic principle that at that age all children should be given equal chances to access similar education irrespective the birth and background, and this is what the Constitution of India proclaims. Professor Yash Pal in his recent interview in one of the national dailies says, "scientific temper does not arise from science and technology. It's a sociological attribute."

11. I say that the draw by lot is far more scientific and rational than any other system. It is based on the statistical theory of probability so that each child would stand equal chance of being 'selected' irrespective of his/her caste, creed and background, eliminating the chance of arbitrariness, favoritism and looking into parental background under the current practice in the name of interactions. Further, it would make students population truly diverse, which many schools argue for. Those who want and believe in fatalist view of life and fortunetellers would go to seers and sadhus anyway. It is a mindset and has nothing to do with draw of lots, which can't be predicted by any seers except the theory of probability. Hence, on this account, it is argued that draw of lot would be the most scientific and should be resorted to for admissions up to the age 14.

12. I say that the Indian situation cannot be compared with Britain or other countries only on one aspect, as made out in the learned A.G's suggestions on the basis of experts from the Manchester University; in this case 'interactions' with parents as done by the private schools over there. The nature and practice of parental interactions abroad have got to be corroborated and authenticated. Besides, the percentage of private schools is far less in foreign countries; it is not growing as in India at the cost of government schools and with direct and hidden subsidies from the state. The central government in its 'National Plan of Action for Education for All' has announced its intention to regulate the private schools. Besides, the neighbourhood schooling principles prevail in the developed as well as in most developing countries.

13. I say that there is absolutely no reason why the principle of 3 km as laid down under regulation of the Delhi Education Act should not be enforced, and why it should be further extended to 5 km or than to 8 km. If the area of a school is further extended there would be more applications and it would be more torturous for the children to cover longer distances. In fact the appropriate authority should duly notify the neighbourhood for each school, which must not exceed 1km for young children as laid down in the national policy.

14. I say that the AG's suggestion regarding the 25% seats to be filled in under the management quota seems beyond the purview of the current petition. In the absence of the system of draw of lots or the neighbourhood schooling, the management is already filling in all the seats, so a reasonable percentage of discretion could be considered only if the strict principle of neighbourhood system of schooling and/or the system of draw of lots is introduced.

15. I say further that learned A.G's suggestions have not taken into account the National Policy of Education, recommendations of the earlier commissions and committees and principles and spirit of the Indian Constitution, which do not favour any type of sorting and selection of young children as referred to by the Public Study Group in its affidavit.

16. I say that none of the affidavits has kept in view the interests of children with disabilities who have equal rights to study in mainstream schools, and also suggestions do not consider how their rights would be secured when schools are allowed free hand in selection of children by way of interactions with parents or otherwise. Further, a 'right to choose' children is being misused for excluding children on the grounds of learning disabilities and other types of disabilities, and also for creating a huge market and business for 'professionals' emerging in this 'field'. I submit that whatever order is passed by this Hon'ble Court, the rights of these children to study in inclusive school environments and rights to exercise their choice to do so must be kept into consideration.



Verified at Delhi on this 3rd day of January 2005 that the facts and submissions made in the above affidavit are correct and true to my knowledge and nothing material has been concealed therefrom.


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Attachment: SJ1affidavittoAGsuggestions.doc
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