Drawing the curtains on the number of admissions in kindergarten in matriculation schools, Tamil Nadu Government has cut down the numbers to 120 students across the four sections, regardless of the institution's size.
The Directorate of Matriculation schools, which oversees 5,000 schools, has issued a circular stating that not more than 120 students are allowed in four sections of Kindergarten of any school of the state. It will be applicable from the academic year 2014-15, for which the admission will begin this month. However, CBSE and ICSE schools are exempted from the rule.
Directions from court in the wake of the Kumbakonam fire tragedy played a role in prompting the administration to enforce a stringent safety policy.
"Some schools have more than 12 sections. They say they have 250 teachers to manage the students. But when there is an emergency, there could even be loss of life. It's not a risk we can take," says an official in the department of school education.
According to the new rule, schools with special permission can admit up to 150 students in five sections. However, these schools have to make sure that 25% of the intake is reserved for poor socio-economic backgrounds under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act. Though this new rules are opposed by private institutions as over the years, they have hiked intake considerably to meet the demands of the growing population.
In Tamil Nadu, there are more than 5,000 matriculation schools, of which around 40% admit more than 150 children at the entry level. The matriculation board's new admissions norms are certainly not in sync with guidelines laid down by other boards, which do not put a cap on admissions provided the institution has the required infrastructure.
KR Nandakumar, state general secretary of Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, Matriculation and Higher Secondary School Association says, "This is all Humbug. No school is going to reduce number of sections. They will continue to admit as many students as infrastructure admits."
Another problem that rises up, if the schools are asked to limit admissions, there may be a shortfall of around one lakh seats. This will result in more students taking admissions in government schools due to non-availability of seats in private schools.
"This will going to make the life of parents miserable. Already, we are unable to get a seat in any of the reputed schools," says Kavitha Sundar, parent of two kids.