The biggest issue seems to be the way the education department has mapped out schools, leaving out entire neighbourhoods and sub-localities, and incorrectly marked out distances from schools to neighbourhoods.
When Nasser Ahmed, a resident of a slum cluster in Patparganj’s Madhu Vihar area, went to the nearest cyber cafe to fill the online form for nursery admissions for his child, he was stumped. Not only did the portal fail to show his locality in the list of neighbourhoods, but it kept directing him to schools in Dwarka. “I kept trying to refill the form to no avail. I really don’t know what to do now because schools are not accepting offline forms,” said Ahmed, whose child falls under the EWS (economically weaker section) category.
Ahmed is among the many EWS/DG (disadvantaged group) parents who are struggling with the gaping holes in the online admission system. The Delhi government had decided to make nursery admissions completely online from this session. The biggest issue seems to be the way the education department has mapped out schools, leaving out entire neighbourhoods and sub-localities, and incorrectly marked out distances from schools to neighbourhoods. So, while Ahmed gets directed to Dwarka every time he types Madhu Vihar, a parent submitting an application for Budh Vihar gets directed to AIIMS in South Delhi. Schools within a kilometre of Joshi Colony, a locality in IP Extension, are missing. Dhaula Kuan is shown in Samaypur Badli, while Rohini Sector 17 shows no schools in the vicinity despite the area having plenty of them. Distance is a crucial marker for nursery admissions, as the Right to Education Act mandates that schools have to admit children living within a kilometer first, followed by those living three and six kilometers away. With locations marked incorrectly, many parents will have a hard time even entering the system. After shelling out money on cybercafes — to the tune of Rs 50 to Rs 200 per hour — parents belonging to the EWS category are then faced with the daunting task of completing the six-step admission process. It doesn’t help matters that they are unable to complete the process without filling mandatory mobile number or that pages get locked when an applicant navigates beyond it. “I don’t have a mobile phone. I also don’t have the money to buy one. I can give my neighbour’s number, but I’m sure that it will create problems during admissions,” said Raju, a parent from Shahbad Dairy. NGOs roped in to help parents are also facing problems in figuring out the details. “Even if an applicant has all documents, issues still remain. For instance, only caste certificates issued by the Delhi government are being accepted, so we don’t know what to do for migrants,” a volunteer told The Indian Express. “In view of the many issues being faced, we have written to the Directorate to discontinue the process this year and start again next year after sorting out all issues,” said Khagesh Jha, an advocate with the Delhi High Court.