Despite the Karnataka Government giving a two year adjusting period to the Central mandate on age, many schools in Karnataka have already started implementing it.
A recent mandate issued by the Central government has left parents confused and worried as it requires children to have completed six years of age to be admitted into the first grade. It has sparked concerns among parents who fear it may delay their child’s education and put them at a disadvantage compared to their peers.
Many schools in Karnataka have already implemented it in the state while some still have not, said, an official from the Department of Public Instruction. She added, “Some parents have complained about this, they do not know which schools have implemented this mandate, so there is a bit of confusion but I told them that most schools have implemented it.” Officials say it will be implemented from June 1 of the academic year 2024-25.
The Director of the Department said that children who are already in the system can continue their education and their parents do not have to worry about their children missing a year. He said, “But for the children who are completing six years of age, they need to be four years old in LKG and five years old in UKG.”
He added, “We cannot do anything about the children who are below that age, but the restriction should start when they are young so that we do not have problems when they get to the first grade,” he added.
Many parents whose children are already five years old and due to start first grade this year are now worried that the children might have to repeat a year or take a year off. Previously, the admission age for first grade was five years, which was the norm in most schools in the state, said sources.
A parent, Raj (name changed) said, “This decision has come as a shock to us, and we are worried about our child’s future. Delaying their education by a year may affect their academic progress and overall development.”
However, another official from the Department of Public Instruction has said that the mandate was put in place to ensure that children are physically and mentally prepared for formal schooling.
The department has also said that this move will align the state’s education system with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Public Instruction Department Director said, “The NEP 2020 recommended a foundational age of six years, which is why we have made this change. It is essential that children are ready for formal schooling before they are admitted into first grade.”
A school teacher from Sandur taluk, Karnataka said that they did not receive any formal information from the government about the decision yet and when to implement it. He added, “I think six years is the right age for a child to be in the first grade they will remember better and psychologists recommend this age group as well as the correct age for first graders.”
He added that while the mandate has raised concerns among parents for now it remains to be seen how it will impact the state’s education system in the long run.
A retired principal said that the government takes care of pregnant women with free meals, access to milk and such schemes and then the child is sent to Anganwadis till the age of five. “Government schools do not have the concept of Kindergarten. So by the time the child is six-years-old they will be in the first grade so this mandate works for government schools and systems,” he said.
“When it comes to private schools they have their own rules. The only thing that can be done is that they can make sure children in their schools join at the right age from kindergarten,” he added.
An official from the Department of Public Instruction said that many parents have complained about the new guidelines as their children fall short of the age criteria by just a few days or a month.