The age gap between the youngest and oldest student in Class 1 is as wide as one and a half years
The 2019-20 academic year has barely begun and Class 1 teachers are already dealing with a problem – the age difference among students. Students as young as five years-five months and as old as seven years are enrolled in the same class.
School managements and teachers are grappling with how to impart age-appropriate learning when the gap between the youngest and oldest student stretches to about one and a half years.
Schools blame dept.
Managements blame the Department of Primary and Secondary Education’s differential age criteria for the problem. While the age criterion for students admitted under the RTE quota for class one is five years 10 months to six years 10 months, for other students it is five years five months to seven years.
Section 20 of the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, states that students between five years 10 months and six years 10 months should be admitted to Class 1. However, in May 2018, the the State government had issued an order and relaxed the age limit by five months on either sides of the spectrum. This was done based on requests by the Karnataka State Government Primary School Teachers’ Association on the premise that it would improve enrolment in government schools. However, the age criterion was relaxed for all schools — government, aided and unaided schools, irrespective of whether they followed the State, Central or other boards.
The Government Order was issued barely a week before the commencement of the 2018-19 academic year by when most private schools had completed the admission process. This is the first time the order is being implemented. “The age gap is too large and will affect the performance of students in sports, academics and extracurricular activities. Students who closer to seven years of age are ahead of some of their peers admitted to the same class,” said D. Shashi Kumar, general secretary, Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka.
A principal of a CBSE school in Bengaluru said the relaxation had created a problem for schools as they were inundated with requests for parents to reduce the age of entry into pre-primary classes. “The age criteria for pre-primary class, which is lower kindergarten, is between three years 10 months to four years 10 months. Now, however, parents ask us to admit their children who are three and half years old and say that they will be eligible for Class 1 admissions in two years,” said the principal.
Parents, too, are unhappy with this rule, and have demanded that the department rectify the problem by issuing a single criterion for all students. “Among other problems, the rule is a disadvantage for students admitted under the RTE quota,” said Sridevi S., a parent of a Class 1 student.
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