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Mumbai Mirror

Mumbai, Mar 29: Schools run by the Catholic Church in Mumbai have been asked to admit only 50 children into each of their junior kindergarten classes from the next academic year, which starts in June.

The Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) had taken a decision to this effect in October 2005; this latest notification is a reminder issued in view of the commencement of admission season.
 
The rule is being enforced to allow teachers to give individual attention to each child and to improve the quality of education in the nearly 150 schools run by ABE.

Father Gregory Lobo, secretary of ABE, said that there have been instances earlier where some schools had admitted up to 90 students in each junior kg class.

“When there are so many small children in each class, teachers cannot give attention to each child and the result is that the atmosphere in the class is tense. This is not fair for both the small children and the teachers,” Lobo said.

Since a few students are added to every class in the senior kg and in Std I, the size of a class increases every year. Another reason for restricting the numbers at the junior kg level is to ensure that the number of children does not become unmanageable in Std I.

Most schools have welcomed the new rule. “If there is an assistant with the teacher, it is okay to have 60 children in each class. The assistant can take the children to the bathroom or to play.

But otherwise the number should be restricted. The idea is to allow the teacher to pay attention to each child,” said Father Joachim Tellis, principal of St Mary’s High School (SSC), Mazgaon, which has taken in only 35 students each in its three divisions in junior kg this year. 

Around 30,000 seats are available every year in the junior kindergartens of schools managed by the Catholic Church.

But despite the large number of seats, demand still outstrips supply.

This year, St Mary’s High School received 762 applications for 110 seats; it had 960 applications for the same number of seats.

However, a school manager who did not want to named said that it would be unfair to restrict the numbers of students in each class. “On one hand, schools are told that they should give more seats to poor children. Placing restrictions on the numbers will lead to denial of seats to such children,” the manager said.

Schools also complain that they get requests from local MPs, MLAs, corporators, police and government officials for seats.

To fulfil this demand, some schools reportedly sent a request to the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Ivan Dias, to allow them to admit more children in each class. “But the Cardinal has said no,” said Lobo.

  

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