The AAP government has told the Delhi High Court that age limit for admission in government schools here was essential as an adult and adolescent in a same class could create “complex behavioural problems” which might lead to teenage pregnancy and substance abuse.
The government, in its affidavit filed in the court, said if there is be no upper age limit, it may lead to a variety of “sexual and social problems”.
“If an adult is in the same class as an adolescent, it will create complex behavioural problems, which may lead to teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, aggressive bullying and violent outburst,” the affidavit, filed by the Directorate of Education (DoE), said.
The affidavit, which was filed before Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, countered a petition which has challenged an April 2014 circular issued by DoE prescribing appropriate student age for admission in the government schools.
It said that age gap between the students might have an adverse effect on their studies and “common problems faced will be of bullying, inter-person relations, mental harassment of students and teachers, politics, safety and security, sexual abuse and legal issues in the schools”.
It said that in pursuance to the court’s earlier direction, DoE had called a meeting of some Deputy Directors of Education and others to discuss the issue of fixing upper age limit for admission in various classes in Delhi.
Giving details of the problems which might arise, DoE said that during the meeting, it was pointed out that all the students in a particular class should not have a wider age gap and they should be more or less of same age group so that their thinking, studies and involvement in class activities were appropriate for their age.
“If there is no upper age limit, at some point a child and an adult will be in same class leading to a variety of sexual and social problems,” it said, adding, “Over-age students also tend to face psychological problems with younger ones and hence, drop out from the regular school system.”
DoE also referred to guidelines of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education, 2009, and said there should not be a wide gap between the children of the same class and the prescribed guidelines advocate age appropriate class.
“The past experiences have shown that if there is a significant age gap between students of same class, then the same will create hindrance in their studies owing to different levels of understanding… The same may also result in the elder one dominating/bullying the younger students of the same class,” it said.
The affidavit said that it was “not feasible” to have an adult studying with students who were younger to him.
It said that the petition should be disposed of with heavy costs and the circular should not be changed or amended.