28 Feb 2024  |   05:03am IST

Confusion over admissions to Class 1

The Ministry of Education in its latest notification has instructed the States and UTs to comply with the six-years mandate while admitting students to Class 1, from the upcoming academic year 2024-25. This has caused discomfort to Goan parents and understandably so, as the minimum age for children to be admitted in school is five and a half years in the State. From Goa’s perspective, this decision is a setback. There is no denying that this decision is required keeping in mind the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, but the unorganised implementation will affect parents and especially the students. 

Firstly, there is no clarity whatsoever regarding the exact date of NEP’s implementation. Any new policy has to be introduced gradually so that the entities involved will not be at the receiving end. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case here. The Centre has decided to implement the decision for nursery to Grade 6, Grade 7 to 12 and then up to college, all at the same time. The present categorisation of Grade 1 to 4, Grade 5 to 10 and 11 to 12 has been changed but there has been no clear understanding on that either. The latest notification regarding the six-years mandate will add to the confusion. As per the NEP, children of the age of three were given admission to nursery last year -2023. And so, they are expected to be promoted to Grade 1 for the educational year of 2026-27 which would be fair. However, those children who were in upper KG last year were supposed to be promoted to Class 1 this year and will be affected by the latest decision since they will be only five and a half years old. So, they will have to sit through another year of upper KG as the six-years mandate prohibits them from taking admission to Class 1. What could be more troublesome is that there will be no students to take admission for Class 1, as at least in Goa, parents admit their children to school as per the legal age.

Although the instruction has come from the Central government, the State government will have to explain its up-line regarding the issues which may arise while implementing the decision. Indeed, the Goa government is to be blamed too, since the State began the process to implement NEP two years later. In short, the government has to resolve the problem created by themselves. It is agreeable that the age for the admission to Class 1 should be uniform throughout the country, but the question remains as to why the minimum age was reversed from five and a half years back to six years? Infact, the policy prior to the introduction of NEP 2020 had the same six-years mandate which led to many parents altering the birth dates of their child. Most of the parents did it so that their child does not lose out on a year for the mere gap of 7-8 days to meet the criteria of minimum age. Some then had to take admission at the age of 7. Citing the increased IQ in kids as the reason, the minimum age for admission was reduced to five and a half years, which was in practice until now. So what is the reason behind changing it back to six when it did not work out in the past? And if the government’s reason behind increasing the minimum age is lack of maturity in children, then how come did the government give its nod to admit three-year-olds to pre-school? Although there were categorisation of nursery, lower kindergarten and upper kindergarten earlier, it did not have government authorisation and so, did not enjoy any subsidies or grants. Now, the government itself has acknowledged education from nursery onwards then why was not the maturity factor thought of here?

How come children at the tender age of three will be ‘officially’ going to school? That means there is discrepancy over what exactly should be the minimum age and the government must ponder upon this fact. The government has claimed NEP will help in the progress of the country even further; similar to the claims made during the earlier education policy. When comparing the old education policy to NEP 2020, there are not too many factors which are different, except recognition for nursery years as school education, change in the categorisation of Class 1 to 12 and increase in one year of college education. But what will that achieve? 

The real change should have been within the syllabus which did not happen. The education material should be updated in a timely manner so that children stay on par with the needs of the current times. Many courses in business colleges have become outdated and do not guarantee any sort of employment. This has led to a tremendous decline in the number of students applying for those courses, which are on the verge of being shut. Some of the courses have been already scrapped due to lack of sufficient students. So, the real change should be in the syllabus. NEP has provision for it, but only time will tell whether it becomes a reality. 


Iddhar Udhar