Private school entrance tests banned

Hyderabad: Students from the state will not be forced to face screening tests for admission to private schools this season. For, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) issued a directive to the secondary school education department on Friday to ban all screening tests for admissions.

On Friday, D Sambashiva Rao, principal secretary, secondary education, directed the commissioner of school education to ban private schools from holding screening tests. The order stated that if schools violate the order, the government would de-recognise them.

The directive has come at a time when several corporate schools including Narayana Group of Schools, Sri Chaitanya Techno Schools and Ravindra Bharathi Group of Schools have scheduled their “entrance tests”. The schools planned to conduct their tests on Sunday. As per the order, the schools will now have to return the entrance fee (Rs 50) collected from students. Private schools stated that they would abide by the government order and stop the screening tests.

According to Achyutha Rao, president, AP Bala Sangham, the child rights NGO that petitioned the SHRC on the issue, the screening tests are just a marketing strategy employed by private schools to lure students. “The schools advertise that they would give full scholarship to students who get high grades in the screening test. But just one or two students from thousands who write the test get scholarship,” said Rao. He added that the schools hold these tests to attract students of other schools. “Since several schools have mushroomed in the state during the past few years, it is difficult for managements to fill seats. Hence to attract students, they conduct these tests,” Rao told the SHRC. The petitioner also stated that the schools were luring students with freebies like i-pods, DVD players, laptops and web cameras. The SHRC also directed the principal secretary, secondary education to file a report on the matter by February 18. “The department takes the matter seriously and might even impose a fine on schools which have advertised the tests,” said Sambashiva Rao.

Interestingly, the schools have been conducting talent tests in violation of not just the Right to Education Act but also a high court order issued in 2009.

The court had banned screening tests under the name “talent hunts” which were being conducted by corporate schools to attract students. The schools, however, continued the screening tests under different names including “free entrance” and “road show” to avoid contempt of court.
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