Coimbatore: According to the analytical reports published bu the district information system for education, 15% of primary school students in Tamil Nadu are below permitted age.
The state ranks fifth highest in the country in the primary level and fourth highest in the upper primary level, with almost 18% students below the permitted age group.
According to the report, there are 14.46% students in the primary level who are below the permitted age limit. In the upper primary level - Classes 1 to 5 - 17.99% students are below the permitted age group.
There are no students in the kindergarten level in government schools. "Students below the age of five are admitted to Anganvadis and those above five are admitted to Class 1 or above," said P Gandhimathi, district elementary education officer, Coimbatore.
The school education department said private schools in Tamil Nadu admit students at the kindergarten level only at three-and-a-half years. Often children who are one to three months below the permitted age are also considered. "A condonation is provided to such students and they are given admissions," said Gandhimathi.
K Chandran, inspector of matriculation schools, said, "Private schools are very particular about the age while admitting students. The child should be three-and-a-half years while joining school in June. Parents are denied admission form if the child does not fit the age criterion."
Some private schools consider three years as the age limit for admission at the kindergarten level. "Admission is denied to child not completing three years by July 31 of the academic year. Some schools allow till August 31," principal of a private matriculation school in Coimbatore said.
While private schools in the city strictly follow the age criterion, those in the rural areas however are not so stringent. The school education department has pressures them to keep the age negotiable by six months. "Kindergarten admission is easier for us (private schools) to handle as government schools do not have KG but when students are admitted to other classes, the government and school education department ask us not to give importance to age," another private school principal said.
Problems arise when the student has to appear for the class 10 and 12 exams. For a student to be able to write Class 10 board exam in the state, he/she should be 14 years old and for class 12, the student must be 16 years old. "In case the student falls below the age limit, the school has to arrange for an age-exemption certificate from the district education officer or the inspector of matriculation schools," the principal who has experienced such cases, said.