12:00 AM, November 01, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 01, 2010

Lottery for admission

24 schools in city to enrol children thru' lottery, instead of admission test

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Wasim Bin Habib

The government has taken an initiative for introducing lottery system for admission into class I at the 24 state-owned high schools in the capital next year.
It believes this would end the psychological torment a preschooler has to go through to get a spot in those schools.
Viqarunnisa Noon School, one of the reputed and most sought-after schools in the country, decided to go for lottery to admit class I students in 2011. The system is already being used by Holy Cross School and College, Mohammadpur Preparatory High School, Herman Mainer College, YWCA School and College.
Every year children aged between five and six years wade into battle for admission in reputed schools. They undergo enormous pressure of memorising information difficult to remember at the tender age. They have to prepare for weeks before they finally appear for the test at their parents' desired schools.
Apart from guidance at home, many parents send their children to coaching centres, which take a handsome amount of money from them promising admission in reputed schools.
The admission tests in the 24 government high schools, usually at the top of limited-income parents' wish list, is so competitive that a child has to fight against at least seven others to get in.
Teachers and guardians believe that children at this tender age have to go through immense pressure to perform and it creates a kind of fear in them. They say that it is quite tough to assess merit at this age. They observe that private schools in the city would follow the system if the system is introduced in government schools.
"The lottery system would put an end to all the hassles we and the children go through," said Waliur Rahman, a parent who aspires to get his child into a reputed school.
Education officials say that the lottery system will help stop irregularities in the admissions process as well as stop influential people lobbying to get children in by bending the rules.
Some coaching centres are now opposing the lottery system especially after Viqarunnisa's decision fearing loss of business. They have even started arranging demonstrations with parents against the lottery system.
Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) is preparing a plan for the new system. The plan would be sent to the education ministry soon.
"The proposal for introducing lottery system in the city's 24 public schools was discussed ahead of last year's admission but no decision was made. Now, we are considering it seriously," said Prof Noman-ur-Rashid, director general of DSHE.
"I personally believe that the existing admission test system puts intolerable pressure on the tiny brains and it should go," he told The Daily Star Thursday.
He said a meeting would soon be held in the education ministry to finalise the admission system for class I.
The 24 public schools accommodate around 2,000 children in class I. In the current academic year, about 50,000 admission forms were sold by these schools.
Viqarunnisa Noon School authorities said they decided to introduce the lottery system from next year to ensure admission free of irregularities.
"The lottery would be held in presence of guardians, children and the media," Husne Ara Begum, principal of the school, told The Daily Star Thursday.
The school has 1,568 seats for class I and the lottery would be held for 1,440 seats as there are some reserve seats for the children of teachers and employees of the school, and sisters of the current students.
Forms will be distributed between November 7 and November 10 and the school authorities would interview the students when they submit the forms on November 12, 13 and 14 between 9:00am and 5:00pm, said the principal.
She said the interview would be conducted to disqualify girls who are too old for class I.
The lottery would be held in December, she added.

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