NEW DELHI: In a first, the Centre has begun an exercise to assess whether allowing minority institutions to not admit poor students under the Right to Education Act under a constitutional provision is actually helping children in Christian and Muslim communities.
The massive study funded by the Human Resources Development Ministry and being carried out by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights through private agencies could be the basis of a report based on which special provisions made for madrasas and missionary schools could be ended, document accessed by this newspaper shows.
The RTE 2009 mandates all private schools to reserve 25 per cent seats to students from economically weaker sections at the entry level. However, minority institutions were exempted from the provision after they challenged it in the Rajasthan High Court and later Supreme Court. “We now want to examine whether that exemption being enjoyed by missionary schools and madarsas is resulting in any real benefit for Christian and Muslim children,” said an official in the school education department of HRD Ministry.
“This study is mainly aimed at missionary schools as they are paid institutions where a large number of students who can afford expensive education study,” the official added. Sources in the NCPCR said a response has already been sought from the states to “Study the Impact of Article 15 (5) with respect to Article 21 A of the Constitutions of India on Education of Children of Minority Communities”.
“The NCPCR and the SCPCRs in their observation have seen that while missionary schools deny admission to poor students using the constitutional provision, the number of Christian students in those schools is limited and therefore the rationale behind Article 15 (5) to exempt minority institutions from reservation in order to conserve their language, script and culture is not getting fulfilled,” said a senior official in the child rights body.
Educationist Prem Shankar Ram who teaches at Banaras Hindu University welcomed the move saying that provisions of the RTE should be extended to maximise its benefits of providing free and compulsory education to all children.
Objectives of the study
1. Quantitative analysis on the number of schools with minority status and children enrolled
2. Filed survey in at least 35 district in at least 5 states in five regions
3. Analysis, interpretation and conclusion highlighting the impact of Article 15 (5) with respect to Article 21A of the Constitution on education of minority children
4. Recommendations for optimising the benefits of minority status of schools to children of the respective minority community