Controversy over admission to playgroups: school authorities remove discriminatory conditions


Conditions had been introduced to discourage over-aged admissions applicants

Authorities at Mohammadpur Preparatory School and Middle School in Dhaka have withdrawn discriminatory conditions for admission to playgroups following public outcry last week.

School principal Belayet Hossain told Dhaka Tribune on Friday that the only condition left was that applicants for playgroup admission must be between four and five years old.

“We never thought the guidelines would create so much controversy. As the criticisms spread across the country, we decided to withdraw them and issue revised guidelines, ”he said.

The controversial conditions required children to fall within certain height and weight ranges as well as a certain number of teeth in order to be admitted. The conditions had been in effect for several years.

“A few years ago, we saw that children of seven or even eight years old sought to be admitted into the playgroup because their parents had lowered their age on their birth certificate. Conditions have been introduced to ensure that only children of the appropriate age are allowed into the playgroup, ”explained the director.

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A Khaled Mosharrof, a member of the school‘s admissions committee, confirmed that all conditions other than the age limit have been dropped.

School officials also apologized to all children and their guardians for formulating discriminatory guidelines, he added.

However, several parents claimed that the conditions were only introduced as a way to collect bribes.

Former interim government adviser and educator Rasheda K Chowdhury called the controversial conditions discriminatory and reprehensible.

“Tutors should be encouraged to bring in and enroll students with mental or physical disabilities, but such conditions would have the opposite effect. Such discriminatory conditions are unacceptable and should be punished, ”she said.

She also urged the government to improve supervision of private and public schools to ensure that none of them can introduce such discriminatory admission requirements.

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