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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Parents under pressure ahead of school admissions

Parents under pressure ahead of school admissions Yogita Rao, TNN | Nov 3, 2011, 02.46AM IST Article Comments Read more:school admissions|pressure on parents 0 I am seeking admission for my three-year-old son. The admission kit the school gave us has three or four forms. Can you guess what sort of questions they contain?" asks Deepak Patil (name changed), wiping off sweat from his forehead. "Well, they ask if my son is fluent in English. Can such a small child be fluent in any language, leave alone English?" Patil's angst is shared by many parents going through the primary and pre-primary school admission process. While the Right to Education Act bars the screening of children for admissions, parents fear private schools will test the intelligence of potential candidates in myriad ways, going to the extent of seeking educational qualifications of parents and details like their membership in social organizations. Parents say the number of good schools in the city is limited, whereas applicants are in the thousands. Though they sympathize with their children, they feel making them go through the grind for a coveted seat is unavoidable. Then there is expenditure. A parent who spent around Rs 10,000 on forms said: "A school in Mumbai Central charged the highest amount for a form--Rs 5,000. I hate to see my daughter sit through all this at her age, but it is unavoidable. I have been sending her to special classes for the last three months. There is a shop at Kemps' Corner that sells interview materials. I have bought these too to train her at home. I want that she should not be confused if she sees all that material when a school calls her for an interview." Another parent, whose son will be three soon, has been on her toes for six months, reading up on international schools, among other things. Not sure about the nature of questions to be thrown at her or her son, she does not want to leave any stone unturned. Her husband, a businessman, is about to complete an MBA course; he enrolled in it to ensure that he was not found wanting by any school seeking parental qualifications. Another parent journeys from Ghatkopar to Mahalaxmi every day for training sessions for her four-year-old daughter, who she wants in a renowned Bandra school. "My daughter has secured a seat in nursery in a Chembur school. But we want for her the Bandra school. We do not know what the school will ask us or our child in the interactive sessions. So, we are familiarizing our child with strangers to develop her communication skills." Meenakshi Chirawala, a trainer, says schools want "good" students. "Many schools seek parents who are professionals. They have been doing this for several years now. I mostly train children to familiarize them with their surroundings, and make them arrive at a basic understanding of colours, shapes, etc. I teach them to converse and help them overcome fright of strangers."

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