Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Debate over Appropriate Age of Admission to Class 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • The age at which children should begin formal education has been a topic of debate and discussion, with variations in policies and practices among different states and countries.
  • Understanding the rationale behind these age criteria is crucial for shaping educational policies that align with the needs and development of young learners.

NEP 2020 and Minimum Age for Class 1

  • National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: NEP 2020 introduces a “5+3+3+4” structure for formal schooling, emphasizing early childhood education for ages 3 to 5 years.
  • Minimum Age for Class 1: According to NEP 2020, a child should be 6 years old to enroll in Class 1, following three years of early childhood education.

Recent News and Policy Implementation

  • Union Education Ministry’s Efforts: The Union Education Ministry has urged states to align their Class 1 admission age with NEP 2020’s recommendation.
  • Kendriya Vidyalayas Case: Last year, Kendriya Vidyalayas increased the admission age to align with NEP 2020, leading to a legal challenge that was ultimately dismissed.
  • Delhi Government’s Decision: This year, the Delhi government decided to maintain its existing guidelines, permitting Class 1 admission below the age of 6.

Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009

  • RTE Act’s Age Provision: RTE Act guarantees education from ages 6 to 14, implying that elementary education (Class 1) should begin at age 6.
  • Historical Perspective: The age of 6 was chosen based on global practices and historical references, including Mahatma Gandhi’s basic education principles.

Research on Entry Age for Formal Education

  • David Whitebread’s Research: Studies comparing early literacy lessons starting at ages 5 and 7 in New Zealand showed no significant advantage for early introduction to formal learning.
  • Reading Achievement Study: A study across 55 countries found no significant association between reading achievement and school entry age.

Global Practices in Starting Formal Education

  • Standard Age of 6: Many East Asian and European countries start formal education at age 6, with younger children often attending preschool.
  • Scandinavian Approach: Scandinavian countries typically begin formal education at age 7, supported by universal child care for younger children.
  • US and UK Variation: The USA and UK stand out as countries where children generally start school at age 5, with varying childcare provisions.


  • The debate over the appropriate age for starting formal education encompasses a range of factors, including developmental readiness, educational goals, and cultural norms.
  • Understanding the diverse approaches and research findings can inform policymakers as they strive to create educational systems that best serve the needs of young learners.

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