The Maharashtra government has asked schools to desist from denying nursery admissions for the academic year, 2022-23 citing the minimum age criteria restrictions prescribed in its earlier government resolution (GR) dated September 18, 2020. The primary education department was forced to issue a second GR dated December 20, 2021 to clarify the confusion caused by its earlier September 2020 GR. Recognising the problems faced due to the change in the admission cut-off date, the latest GR specifically asks schools to admit children born in October, November or December 2018 to nursery class for the academic year, 2022-23.
The earlier September 2020 GR, enforceable from the forthcoming academic year 2022-23, relaxed the yearly pre-primary admissions cut-off date to December 31 from the earlier cut-off date of September 30. With most schools across the state completing their admissions process for the forthcoming academic year by October each year, the December 31 cut-off date resulted in parents either admitting their wards as young as 2.5 years to nursery or skipping a year of pre-primaries entirely since.
The new cut-off was also discriminatory towards children born during the months-October, November and December 2018. In a bid to follow the state’s September 2020 GR, schools refused nursery applications of children born during these months (October, November or December 2018) since they (children) would be over the prescribed ‘three’ years age limit in the new academic year (2022-23) beginning June 2022. Instead, schools asked for the toddlers to skip nursery class altogether and join junior KG. The September 2020 GR prescribes a minimum ‘four’ years age limit for junior KG.
The new GR clarifies, children born between October 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019 can take admission to nursery since they complete the minimum three years as of December, 2022. Children born between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018 can be admitted to junior KG as they complete four years by December 2022. Since children born between October 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017 would have completed five years by December 2022, they would be eligible for senior KG admissions. Similarly, children born between October 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016 can be admitted to class I since they meet the minimum age eligibility of six years in December 2022. (See box)
The GR also states, “Parents are free to decide the pre-primary class and the age at which their wards join the pre-primaries. Schools cannot refuse students admissions to the pre-primaries on the basis of the upper age criteria. The GR dated September 18, 2020 was directed towards ensuring schools adhered to the minimum age requirement of six years for class I. While schools are required to follow the minimum age criteria for each class, there is no fixed upper age limit mentioned in the GR and thus schools are advised to maintain flexibility while admitting students above the prescribed minimum age for admissions to the pre-primaries.”
Schools in Maharashtra had no uniformity in cut-off dates for pre-primary and class 1 admissions until January 23, 2015. Thereafter, a one-man committee under the chairmanship of the director-primary education recommended July 31 as the admission cut-off date to bring about a common cut-off date across different educational boards despite different academic calendars. While the CBSE and CICSE begin their academic sessions in April, state board schools begin their academic session in June each year. In 2017, the government relaxed the cut-off date for admissions to September 30 while the September 2020 GR, pushed the admission cut-off date further to December 31.
The government’s move to push the admission cut-off to December 31 had already stirred protests from educators asking the admission cut-off date to be restored to September 31. Educators warned the move would inevitably lead to many parents either admitting their wards to nursery despite being six to eight-month younger than the prescribed ‘three’ years or unsuspectingly skip a class to admit their children in higher classes without realising the detrimental effects on the toddler’s language and social development skills. Children who skip nursery, junior or senior kindergarten (KG) would be missing the foundational learning in literacy and numeracy imparted in these classes and would find it difficult to cope with grade one curriculum.
Given the disadvantages of age-inappropriate education, several parents want the government to rescind the September 18 2020 GR altogether. “As long as the September 2020 GR exists, schools will continue to dictate terms to the parents with regards to pre-primary admissions. Unsuspecting parents too will continue to admit their children to age-inappropriate classes without being aware of the impact on the child’s mental health,” says Advocate Sachin Salvi who has already sent several notices to the education department and will soon file a writ petition in the Bombay High Court against the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) September 2020 GR.
December 20 GR: Minimum age cut-off for nursery to class I admissions
|Sr no.||Class||Date of birth||Age as on December 31, 2022|
|1.||Playgroup/ nursery||October 1, 2018 – December 31, 2019||3|
|2.||Junior Kindergarten||October 1, 2017 – December 31, 2018||4|
|3.||Senior Kindergarten||October 1, 2016 – December 31, 2017||5|
|4.||Class I||October 1, 2015 – December 31, 2016||6|