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School admissions: a monumental task for parents

Karachi, Aug 3: It is common knowledge that parents today toil and strive in order to get their children admission into the best schools of the city. This desperate struggle to ensure a good education for their children has assumed the form of a fierce struggle. Tough competition for admissions compels parents to go as far as to get their children's names registered in nurseries even before they are born!

Today, the trend of getting the names of children registered in montessories as soon as (or even before) they are born, is increasing. This is done to improve the chances of gaining admission into the most professional nurseries once the child is ready to start schooling.

Even stranger is the sight of parents lining up outside schools in hope of getting their hands on admission forms. Such scenes can be witnessed outside schools such as BVS and other Parsi Schools while admission season is in full bloom. Fear of returning empty handed compels the poor parents to spend all night waiting on the roads outside these schools just so they can get these forms in the morning.

Parents undergo similar hassles to acquire admission forms for other prestigious institutions, within which missionary schools are another popular option. Although the arrival of private institutions has broken the monopoly they once exercised, missionary schools are still heavily sought after. Among these, St. Joseph's and St. Patrick's are two renowned and respected schools. A vast majority of parents prefer these missionary schools because they fall well within the financial range of those with middle class incomes. However, financial considerations are not the only cause for the immense popularity that these schools enjoy. It is also the high quality of education due to which they command such respect.

A number of parents proclaim that money is not the deciding factor when it comes to the schools they choose for their children. They insist that their decisions are based on the reputation of schools and the quality of the education that they impart. Nevertheless, crowds of parents flock to missionary schools to get quality education for their children in exchange for nominal fees.

Some people feel that the unnecessary anxiety that surrounds the admission process is a feature specific to our part of the world. Perhaps the reason for this is the fact that the admission process in schools here is extremely competitive. There are nearly five students vying for a single seat in the well-reputed schools. Thus, parents of the less fortunate four who get rejected by these schools will have to face disappointment.

It is the absence of an organised educational set-up in the country that explains this tough competition. Good schools are few in number but there is no end to the numbers who want to study there.

If the process of ensuring registration is not difficult enough, there are the test preparations, too. Parents enlist the help of 'tuition centres' to ensure that their toddlers pass the test. Imagine the sufferings of a poor four-year-old child subjected to such labour. While parents slog to find the best tutors (not to mention the fact that they pay for their services) and arrange for transport, the agony of extensive travelling and studying is endured by the child alone.

It appears as if there will be no end to all this drama unless there is an effort to organise and revamp the education system. Until greater numbers of quality schools are established, parents will continue to go to any length to get their children admitted to the select few that are available now. Moreover, if their efforts go down the drain, even after all that effort, who will claim responsibility for their failure?. -Syeda Rabab Zehra Naqvi (The news)
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