The Supreme Court took a pessimistic view of parental concerns about schooling on Monday, ruling that children should not be put to school at an early age in the interest of their psychological health.
"There is a rush to enrol youngsters in school." Parents want to begin as soon as their children reach the age of two. This may be detrimental to their psychological health," a panel of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh observed.
The bench was hearing an appeal from a group of parents who were contesting the minimum age requirement of six years for admission to Kendriya Vidyalaya Class 1 for the upcoming academic session. The parents filed a petition with the Delhi High Court on April 11, claiming that the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghathan (KVS) abruptly modified the admission requirement for classes 1 to six years barely four days before the admission process began in March 2022. Five years was the previous criterion.
"There are research works that demonstrate there is an appropriate age to admit a child to school," the bench stated. Don't overburden the child. It may have an effect on his ability to grasp and read. There could be psychological ramifications."
In this case, the petitioners argued that the change in age criteria without prior notice is prejudicial to the interests of students who have the right to participate in the admission process, as well as a violation of their right under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
The Supreme Court, however, remained unimpressed. "The issue is that every parent believes that his or her child is a genius capable of adapting at any age. Consider the child's psychological wellbeing. There is an appropriate age to begin anything, including education. In fact, there are some studies that demonstrate youngsters do better when they do not start too early," the bench told the lawyer representing the parents' association.
The bench also favoured the mandate of the National Education Policy (NEP), which established age restrictions in order to maintain uniformity in admission age. During the hearing, the central government's lawyer stated that 21 states have implemented the six-plus regime for Class 1 under the NEP, which went into effect in 2020, and that the programme has not been challenged.
The court then dismissed the appeal, upholding the Delhi high court's decision. The HC rejected the parents' plea in the same instance on April 11, stating they had not been banned from seeking admission. "The only effect of the impugned guidelines is to shift their eligibility to the following academic year, which in my opinion cannot be a ground to interfere with the impugned guidelines, especially given that the respondents have already received over 7 lakh applications for admission to Class-I for the academic year 2022-2023," the HC said.