Srinagar, Mar 14: A directive issued by the Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) to a top private school in Srinagar on "arbitrarily-fixed" preschool age criteria has found no takers, even as parents continue to remain anguished and disturbed seeking immediate intervention of the higher authorities in the government to "end their trauma".
The DSEK in a letter dated March 11, 2023 directed the management of Tyndale Biscoe and Mallison higher secondary school Srinagar to promote kids to next classes prospectively rather than retrospectively.
However, a day after the letter was issued, the school has come up with fresh notification on preschool age criteria by giving retrospective effect to the NEP-2020.
"This is for the information of all, that Tyndale-Biscoe & Mallinson Society Schools are following NEP 2020 and RTE 2009 (for age criteria) and that all admissions in classes will be as per the guidelines laid and as per direction from Government and Order dated 22/7/2022 passed by the High Court of J&K and Ladakh at Srinagar in WP(C) PIL No. 20/2020," the school notification dated March 14, 2023 reads.
"The school upholds the 5-year Foundational Stage for Lower Primary Department as envisaged in the aforementioned, based on which promotion will be initiated for session 2023-24," it reads.
As per the notification, the age of kid will be 3+ in NURSERY, LKG (4+) UKG (5+) 1st primary (6+) and 2nd primary (7+)
The move has again left the parents anguished and distressed as the institution is resorting to highhandedness by taking decisions out of their own will, the anguished parents said.
"Our wards, after completion of curriculum meant for their standard, are curiously waiting to go into the 1st class. But their retention in previous class for another year will have long lasting psychological impressions on their mind resulting not only in loss of self-confidence but they may also develop a sense of inferiority compared to their fellow batch mates in any other school of the Valley. Some of them are in their close relationships. This is completely contradictory to the spirit of the NEP-2020," said a parent.
The parents said the Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson school has decided to implement NEP-2020 with effect from March 2023 but unnecessary retention of KG students in the same class for another year (after re-captioning this class as UKG) and keeping them in the same class for two and a half year (including 6 months of shift of academic session to March) was highly discouraging.
"It is shocking why our own school plans to retain KG students in the same class and make them lose one complete year when compared to the fellow batch mates in any other schools of the J&K UT. Besides, it would be a huge financial burden on parents," the parents said.
A school functionary of Biscoe School when contacted claimed that the school was doing it for the benefit of students.
"The issue is not only with Biscoe school but others as well. But they are keeping mum and do not want to come forward. We are doing it for children so that they will not face any problem in future," the school functionary said.
It is pertinent to mention here that all other schools have followed the old scheme for previous batches of students enrolled in the kindergarten section. The schools have followed the new age criteria from the fresh batch of the students enrolled in Nursery or LKG classes.
"It is obvious that the policy will not be given any retrospective effect. We are not adopting the new age criteria on our previous batches. The policy will be implemented on the fresh batch of students enrolled in the school this year," said a school functionary of a top private school in Srinagar. Other schools have also decided to adopt new age criteria from the fresh batches.
"It is only the Biscoe school which is creating problems for us," a parent said.
The Private School Association Jammu and Kashmir Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) also cautioned the schools not to give a retrospective effect to NEP-2020.
"All the schools have been told not to disturb any student by giving retrospective effect to NEP as it will lead to confusion and disturb students mentally," Chairman PSAJK G N Var told Greater Kashmir.
"NEP is not an Act but a policy and it will not be given retrospective effect at all. No school should make its own decision which will not be in the interest of the students," Var said.
Despite repeated attempts, DSEK Tasaduq Hussain Mir was not available for his comments on the issue.
However, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Vijay Kumar Bidhuri when contacted assured his intervention into the matter. "I will look into the matter and everything will be done legally," he said.