Raise minimum age of admission for Class 1 to 6 years: Centre to states, UTs
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There are 14 states and Union Territories that allow Class 1 admission for children who have not completed six years.
The Ministry of Education has made another attempt to get all the states and Union Territories to adopt six years as the minimum age for admission to Class 1 in step with the stipulation in the National Education Policy.
In a letter to the state governments and the Union Territory administrations, the ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy has reiterated its directions issued several times since the NEP was launched in 2020
According to a response furnished by the Centre in the Lok Sabha in March 2022, there are wide variations in the age criteria among states when it comes to admission to Class 1. There are 14 states and Union Territories that allow Class 1 admission for children who have not completed six years.
For instance, in Assam, Gujarat, Puducherry, Telangana and Ladakh, children who have turned five can get admitted to Class 1. In Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Goa, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala the minimum age is five plus.
The latest communication from the Centre to the states and UTs went out on February 9. On previous occasions, the Centre pointed out that not aligning the minimum age with the NEP stipulation was affecting the measurement of net enrolment ratios in different states.
This anomaly also results in the incorrect reporting of the enrolment of children in age-appropriate classes and hence the incorrect reporting of underage and overage children, thus affecting the net enrolment ratios in different states and at the national level, as well as difficulties in the interstate movement of students and for appearing in various competitive exams,” the ministry told the Lok Sabha on March 28, 2022.
The states and UTs were also requested to prepare a roadmap to ensure smooth transition over the next two-three years. However, with very little progress made on this front, the Centre has once again reached out to the state governments.
The NEP 2020, which envisages a 5+3+3+4 school system, states that the first five years comprise three years of pre-school corresponding to the age groups of three-six years and two years of Classes 1 and 2 corresponding to the age group of six-eight years.
However, with no such explicit provision in the Right to Education Act 2009, which states that every child of the age of 6-14 years shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education (defined as education from the first class to the eighth under the Act are reluctant to make the switch
In 2022, the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, which comes under the Centre, raised the minimum age for admission to Class 1 to six years. The move was challenged in the Delhi High court and the Supreme Court, where it was upheld.