Due to rising aspirations about their children’s success in life, middle class parents in urban areas have developed the perception that early start in schooling shall equip the children to negotiate the public and competitive examinations later in their life with confidence. It is felt that the advantage of early schooling is further enhanced if the child is enrolled in the Nursery class in a school which provides quality care and education to children. Moreover, a Senior Secondary School with a Nursery (Pre-Nursery) wing is the first choice of the parents as it relieves them of all worries related to admissions at the subsequent stages like a primary stage or secondary stage. A child enrolled in the Nursery wing of a Senior Secondary School can continue to study in the same school, if he/she so desires and if his/her progress and achievements in studies meet the expectations of the school. The quality of education imparted in a school depends on several factors such as availability of adequate and appropriate infrastructure and equipments on the one hand and availability of motivated, suitably qualified and competent teachers on the other. In addition, the academic environment generated by the imaginative leadership in the school is the most important determining factor for the quality of education imparted in an institution. Some schools have established their reputation over the years as ‘quality institutions’ and, therefore, are most favoured and sought after institutions for admissions to different stages including Nursery stage. The reputation of a school as a quality institution leads to a mismatch between the number of available places and the number of aspirants for admission. This mismatch is the root cause of the problem concerning admissions to Nursery classes. Needless to say that there is a linear relationship between the magnitude of the problem and the size of the gap between the number of available seats and the number of admission seekers. “This is a singular reason which contributes to the complexity of the problem”.

Every Child seeking admission to the nursery class should be accommodated preferably in the school of his/her choice. Elementary education for the children of 6-14 age group is now recognized as a fundamental right of every Indian child as per the provisions of the Constitution of India. Though Early Childhood Education (ECE) of the children of below 6 years is not a fundamental right, yet its contribution towards achieving the goal of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) can hardly be exaggerated, as it ensures their retention in the school. Therefore, children coming forward to avail themselves for Nursery education on their own and that too at their own cost must be accommodated in nursery school and no child should be denied admission.

However, the other schools, which are not so well reputed, or the newly established schools, which have yet to establish their credibility do not face this problem. In fact, some of them have to compete with other institutions of similar standing to attract children for admissions. Hence the problem of Nursery admissions is primarily of the ‘well-established and reputed’ institutions. Such institutions, over the years, have devised several criteria to select children for admission as they do not have facilities to accommodate all the admission seekers.

The practice of holding interviews has led to the mushroom growth of ‘Preparatory’ or ‘Play’ schools, where even two-year’ olds are coached and prepared to face interviews for admissions at the Nursery stage. The existence of preparatory schools proves dis-advantageous for those children, who are unable to join such schools due to various reasons. The practice of holding interviews with parents puts those children at a disadvantage whose parents are neither well-educated nor financially very sound. In fact, first-generation learners and children with poor social-economic background should have a higher claim for admission to nursery education, which is a school readiness programme, prepares the ground for their continuation at the elementary stage of education.

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