The Delhi government, while inviting applications for admissions to nursery, kindergarten and Class I, has imposed an upper age limit of 4, 5 and 6 years, respectively, on applicants. It is so easy to make ‘laws’ for children who have neither voice nor vote! And it is also so easy to find picture perfect justifications that seem logical. “We cannot admit a 12-year-old to Class I, the child needs to go to Class VIII only,” said an adviser to the education minister. Yes true. That is the ideal situation and we all wish we could ensure that ALL children in India could access Nursery at age 4! But sadly that is not the case so a law like this pushes millions out of school. The Education Act allows late entry upto class VI. True a 12 year old does not look ‘good’ in class I but can you take away her right to Education with one stroke of the pen.
One of the most cherished mission of Project Why has been to push back children to school and mainstream them. If we were to look back under this new prism a large percentage would have been pushed right back to the streets. Most if not all children out of school belong to what we call underprivileged homes, the other side of the fence! They do not have parents who are obsessed with getting their kid in a school. They do not have parents who know the value of education. Their parents are often illiterate and busy surviving from day to day. Their kid is not sent to pre and pre pre nursery schools. They often do not even keep track of their child’s age.
The parents we work with have to be pushed and reminded and egged on and often it is Project WHY that takes on the parental role till the moment when a crucial signature is needed. Now I guess we will have the added responsibility of keeping track of their ages.
Why is it that when decisions are taken about children, the ones on the other side of the fence are far too often forgotten.
We push them in; please don’t push them out!