Explained: Why the NCPCR recommended that minority schools be attached to RTE
The National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) released a report – “The impact of the exemption under Article 15 (5) with respect to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Children in Minority Communities ”- in which she assessed minority schools (schools run by minority organizations) in the country. Minority schools are exempt from the implementation of the right to education policy and do not fall under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the government. Through this report, the NCPCR recommended that these schools be submitted to both RTE and SA, among a host of other recommendations.
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How are minority schools exempt from RTE and SSA?
In 2002, the 86th Amendment to the Constitution made the right to education a fundamental right. The same amendment inserts Article 21A, which makes the TEN a fundamental right for children aged 6 to 14 years. The adoption of the amendment was followed by the launch of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a central government program implemented in partnership with state governments that aimed to provide “useful and relevant elementary education” to all children between six and 14 years old. years.
In 2006, the 93rd Constitution Amendment Act inserted clause (5) in Article 15 which allowed the state to create special provisions, such as reservations for the advancement of all classes of backward citizens such as listed castes and tribes, in all educational establishments, whether or not they have been helped. , with the exception of minority education establishments.
The government subsequently introduced the Right to Education Act (RTE) of 2009, which focuses on inclusive education for all, making the inclusion of disadvantaged children in schools compulsory.
Specifically, section 12 (1) (c) of the Act provided for a reservation of 25 percent of places in non-subsidized schools for the admission of children from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.
Contrary to these laws, article 30 of the Constitution sets out the right of minorities to establish and administer educational establishments, with a view to offering children of different religious and linguistic minority communities the possibility of having and to maintain a distinct culture, script and language.
Subsequently, in 2012, by an amendment, establishments providing religious education were exempted from following the RTE law. Later, in 2014, while discussing the validity of the exemption under section 15 (5), the Supreme Court declared the RTE law inapplicable to minority schools, holding that the law should not interfere with the the right of minorities to establish and operate establishments of their own choosing.
Why did the Commission carry out the study?
The Commission’s objective was to assess the impact of this exemption of minority educational establishments from various mandatory guidelines for non-minority establishments.
The Commission is of the opinion that the two different sets of rules – Article 21A which guarantees the fundamental right to education to all children, and Article 30 which allows minorities to create their own institutions with their own rules and Article 15 (5) which exempts minority schools from RTE – as “creating a conflicting image between the fundamental rights of children and the rights of minority communities”.
How did the Commission carry out the study?
The NCPCR began to hold consultations with students, teachers and communities in 2015-2016. Since then, 16 such consultations have been organized. Also, the subject was discussed during a consultation meeting with the State Commissions in 2017 where 80 participants including the presidents and members of 19 State and National Commissions adopted a charter of recommendations in particular to study this impact. .
The study was carried out in two phases. Phase I focuses on the number of institutes, type of community, enrollment, recognition status, affiliation status, etc. It involved a desk review and data analysis of minority institutes belonging to religious and linguistic minority communities in India.
Phase II aimed to understand the concerns and collect suggestions from representatives of minority communities, heads of educational institutions, parents and students of minority institutions, paying particular attention to students of madrasas due to their prevalence in terms of numbers and registrations. in India. This involved consultative workshops, document review and formal and informal group discussions, including with UN agencies.
What are the conclusions of the report?
The Commission observed in the report that many children enrolled in these institutions or schools were not able to benefit from the rights enjoyed by other children because the institution in which they study is exempt and enjoys the rights of the institutions. minority. The Commission said that the exemption had had certain adverse effects – on the one hand, there are schools, mainly Christian mission schools, which only admit a certain class of pupils and exclude disadvantaged children from the system, thus becoming what the Commission called “cocoons populated by elites”.
In contrast, other types of minority schools, in particular madarasas, have become “ghettos of underprivileged students languishing in backwardness”, specifies the Commission. The Commission said that students in madarasas who do not offer secular courses with religious studies – like science – have fallen behind and feel a sense of alienation and “inferiority” when they leave school. .
The report also finds that only 4.18% of total students received benefits such as free deliveries, free uniforms and books, scholarships, etc. from school.
To ensure free and compulsory quality education for children, the RTE law of 2009 provides for standards relating to the minimum basic infrastructure, the number of teachers, books, uniforms, lunch, etc. , benefits that students in minority schools do not receive.
The Commission also noted an increase in the number of schools applying for minority status certificates after the introduction of the 93rd Amendment, with over 85% of the total schools obtaining the certificate in the years 2005-2009 and later. .
The Commission believes this happened as schools wanted to operate outside the legal mandate to reserve places for backward classes. A second increase in the number of schools benefiting from the MSC was observed in 2010-2014, shortly after the TEN was made inapplicable to minority schools without support.
In 2014, the Pramati judgment rendered the entire RTE law inapplicable to minority schools.
What is the proportion of minority schools in India? How many minority students study in these schools?
The Commission found a disproportionate number of Christian missionary schools in the country, compared to the Christian population, as well as the number of schools run by other minority groups.
According to the report, Christians make up 11.54 percent of the minority population but run 71.96 percent of schools, Muslims make up 69.18 percent of the minority population but run 22.75 percent of schools, Sikhs make up 9.78 percent of the minority population and run 1.54 percent of schools, Buddhists make up 3.83 percent of minority population and run 0.48 percent of schools and Jains make up 1.9 percent of the minority population and operate 1.56 percent of schools.
He also finds that 74 percent of students who study in Christian missionary schools are non-minority students.
The report indicates that in minority communities 62.50% of pupils in minority schools belong to non-minority communities. In addition, only 8.76% of the total pupils in minority schools come from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Commission said state governments must introduce strict guidelines on the minimum percentage of minority students that these schools must admit, as well as examine the proportion of schools run by a particular minority community compared to the size of the population living in the state, before the school was recognized.
What are the conclusions regarding the madarasas?
There are three types of madarasas in India. Government-recognized Madarasas, which typically offer both religious and secular courses, including science. There are 10,064 such madarasas in India and the Commission points out that these were the ones that were taken into consideration by the Sachar committee when it stated that four percent of mulsim students (15.3 lakh) were studying in the madarasas.
There are unrecognized madarasas, which the government has not recognized because they do not provide secular education or lack physical infrastructure, including the number and quality of teachers. Then there are unmapped madarasas that have never sought recognition and operate in a more informal setting – there is no data on how many of these existing madarasas and how many students are studying there.
In 2016, there were 3.8 crore of Muslim children aged 6 to 14, of which 2.7 crore of children were enrolled in school and 1.1 crore were not in school.
The Commission found that the instructions in these schools were deficient. During consultations, including those with minority students and their parents, the demands raised by the community, according to the Commission, include the extension of both the RTE law and the SSA to madarasas, so that students can benefit from free lunches, textbooks, uniforms, teaching-learning materials, library, play materials, computers, smart classes, etc. The students also called for the introduction of general education subjects, in addition to religious education, to extend scholarships to these schools, to provide health and sports facilities and to ensure retention. and reducing drop out rates.