CHENNAI: Government-aided minority schools will be asked to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for students from economically weaker sections, hinted the draft of National Education Policy which was made public by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. While the Right to Education Act mandates all private schools to reserve 25 per cent of seats for students from poor families, schools run by minority communities were exempted by a Supreme Court ruling in May 2014.
“The issue of extension of Clause 12 (1) (c) of RTE Act, which deals with the 25% reservation to government-aided minority institutions (religious and linguistic) will be examined in view of larger national commitments towards the economically weaker sections,” the draft policy said. Interestingly, the new policy directly contradicts the existing stand of the government. The current National Education Policy - drafted in 1986 and amended in 1992 - dedicates a clause to guarantee autonomy for the minority-run institutions.
While reservations is often seen as an obligation for the educational institutions for the cause of social justice, the institutions run by minorities are mostly exempted from the obligation.
“..the Constitutional guarantees given to them to establish and administer their own educational institutions, and protection to their languages and culture,” says the current national education policy.
The RTE Act in its original form mandated the minority-run schools, both private and government-aided, to reserve seats for economically weaker sections. But in May 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that the mandate to reserve seats won’t apply to minority institutions.
The topic was one of hotly-debated issues during the drafting of the policy. The expert committee headed by TSR Subramanian, which made recommendations on the draft policy, had also insisted on reservation in minority-run institutions.
Experts however say that minority schools have their own priorities, which is the empowerment of their community.