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The big underage pressure

The education ministry took a hard decision earlier this May. They revoked the admission of about 890 underage students, children who have not attained the age of six years, the minimum criteria for enrolment in schools.

The ministry and the government came under a lot of criticism to the extent that some, in social media, threatened of not supporting the government in the next election. The ministry stood firm on its decision.

The decision was made following a circular from the education ministry in November 2018, before the 2019 academic session – way before even some parents planned admitting their children in schools.

Parents, proprietors and school principals are appealing to the ministry and the government. They are requesting the government to at least consider those students who were already enrolled for months. They want the students to be regularised. Some are petitioning for those students who are well on their way to complete pre-primary. Others are for bringing down the minimum age to five years.

The government should not give in to the request, however sincere it may be. There is a rule. It is implemented and hundreds of children are already out of school. If the government gives in to the pressure, it will put the government and its decision making process in poor light.

The pressure is from a certain group. Yesterday, representatives of parents, proprietors and principals of private schools appealed to the Prime Minister. Nothing was promised. It was a good decision. Lyonchhen listened to their grievances, but changing a rule that the ministry has already implemented could have repercussions. The government will never be able to implement its decisions.

It is not a popular decision, but a good one. Scientific studies have proven the dangers of early school enrolment. Lyonchhen, a medical expert himself, had said that he knows best the impact of sending underage children to school.

If the scientific reasons are not enough to convince parents or business people, not forgetting that private schools are business entities, the rule should not differentiate children of public and private schools.

Those appealing are parents of children who send their kids to private schools- the so-called educated and rich parents. If they cannot understand, nobody would. Hundreds of children in public schools are already out. There shouldn’t be exceptions.

School proprietors are aware of the rule, which actually is not a new rule. They gave in to pressure from parents who demanded or begged to enroll their underage children and in the process broke the rule. We will not be surprised if some parents were among those who made the very regulations.

We have put our children under pressure even as they start their education. When their classmates move to higher classes, they will be affected. It is not their fault. If the parents had convinced the school to take the underage child, they should be able to convince their child of having to repeat one more year in the same class.

The only solution, at hand, is negotiating over the school fees for having to repeat in the same class.

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