Taking a grim view of the parental anxiety of sending their children to school, the Supreme Court noted that children should not be sent to school at a very young age in the interest of their psychological health.
“There is a kind of rush to send children to schools. Parents want to start as soon as their children are two years old. This may not be conducive to their psychological health,” the bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by a group of parents against minimum age criteria of six years for admission to Class 1 in Kendriya Vidyalaya for the upcoming academic session. They were challenging a Delhi High Court order dated April 11.
The appellants claimed that Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghathan (KVS) suddenly changed the admission criteria for class 1 to six years just four days before the admission process. Previously, the age was five years.
“There are studies to show there is a right age to admit a child to school. Don’t push the child too much. It may impact his ability to grasp and read. There could be psychological impact,” the bench said.
The petitioners contended that the change in age criteria without any prior notice is prejudicial to the interest of the students who have the right to participate in the admission process, and also violates their right under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
“The problem is that every parent feels that his or her child is a genius who can adapt at any age. Think about the child and his psychological health. There is a right age to start everything and that also includes schools. In fact, there are some studies to show children do better when they do not start very early,” the bench stated.
The counsel appearing for the Centre government submitted that 21 states have implemented the six-plus regime for Class 1 under the NEP, which came in 2020 and has not been challenged.
The bench dismissed the plea and stated, “The only effect of the impugned guidelines is to shift their eligibility to the next academic year which in my view cannot be a ground to interfere with the impugned guidelines especially when the respondents have already received over 7 lakh applications for admission to Class-I for the academic year 2022-2023.”