Cuddalore: Every year, around 1,000 three-year-olds apply for admission to start at the privately-run ARLM Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Tamil Nadu's Cuddalore district.
Neither children nor parents are put through interviews. Spelling or reading tests are skipped.
Instead, the children reach into a large jar and grab a plastic token carrying an application number. The winners are announced instantly.
It's admission by lottery, and it's sparing many parents a whole lot of heartache.
The raffle was introduced three years ago. "The ultimate aim is to be transparent; the challenge is to mould any child into an intellectual, hence we don't believe in interviewing children," said the principal GS Rajayogakumar.
School officials say 25 percent of seats are reserved for underprivileged children in the area. This is a crucial provision in the Right to Education (RTE) Act wherein a draw of lots in this segment comes in to play only if the number of applications exceeds the seats available. But, in this school, the remaining 75% are also raffled. Siblings of children already studying in the school, though, get automatic admission.
Chitra fared well. Her son, Inban, is in. "I'm so happy my son made it," she told NDTV.
Another parent, who didn't have the luck of the draw, said he still believes "the government should approve more seats in schools like this."