Ahmedabad, Sep 5 : The Gujarat High Court dismissed a series of petitions challenging the age criterion stipulated by the state government for Class 1 admission in academic year 2023-24.
A division bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice N.V. Anjaria also held that parents who compel children under the age of three to attend preschool are committing an “illegal act.”
The pleas were filed by a group of parents whose children had not attained the age of six by June 1, 2023, and sought to contest the validity of the state government’s notification dated January 31, 2020, which outlined the age limit for Class 1 admissions for the academic year 2023-24.
In its ruling, the high court highlighted the prohibition specified in Rule 8 of the Right to Education (RTE) Rules, 2012, which pertains to preschool admissions, as it underlined that “no preschool is permitted to admit a child who has not completed three years of age by June 1 of the academic year”.
It emphasised that this prohibition was in alignment with the principles enshrined in the Right to Education Act, 2009, and the Right to Education Rules, 2012.
The court contended that a child’s early childhood care and education, lasting three years in a preschool, serves as a foundational preparation for their subsequent admission to Class 1 in a formal school.
The petitioners had contended that the cutoff date of June 1 for the current academic year would hinder around nine lakh children’s right to education.
While the parents argued for relaxation based on the completion of three years of elementary education in a preschool, the Court’s interpretation of the RTE Act, 2009, clarified that a child’s right to free and compulsory education commences after they reach the age of six.
Additionally, it referred to the National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020, which underscores the significance of early childhood care and education for children under six years.