Need of RTE in Minority Schools – UPSC GS2

  • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has released a report titled  “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Children in Minority Communities”.
  • Report aims to assess the impact of exemption of minority educational institutions from implementing The Right to Education policy.
Key Findings of the Study:
  • Many students in minority institutions or schools are not able to enjoy the entitlements that are provided to the children of non-minority institutions.
  • For ensuring free and compulsory quality education to children, the RTE Act, 2009 provides for norms pertaining to basic minimum infrastructure, number of teachers, books, uniform, Mid-day Meal, etc. Students in minority schools are not receiving these benefits.
  • Christians comprise 11.54%  of the minority population but run 71.96% of schools, whereas Muslims comprise 69.18% of the minority population but run 22.75%  of schools,
  • Around 74%  of students studying at Christian missionary schools are non-minority students. Further, only 8.76% of total students in minority schools belong to socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Madrasas: According to the report, there are three kinds of madrasas in the country:
    • Recognised Madrasas: These are registered and impart both religious and secular education
    • Unrecognised Madrasas: These have been found deficient for registration by state governments, as secular education is not imparted.
    • Unmapped Madrasas: These have never applied for registration.
  • The report has found the syllabus of these madrasas that have evolved over centuries are not uniform.
  • Sachar Committee report 2005, which says 4% of Muslim children (15.3 lakh) attend madrasas, has only taken into account the registered madrasas.
Recommendations of the Report:
  • The government should bring all such schools, including madrasas, under the purview of the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.
  • The report has also backed reservations for students from minority communities in minority schools.
How are minority schools exempt from RTE and SSA?
  • 86th amendment to the constitution of India in 2002: It provided the Right to Education as a fundamental right. The same amendment inserted Article 21A, which made the RTE a fundamental right for children aged between six and 14 years.
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA): It is a central government scheme implemented in partnership with the state governments. It aims to provide useful and relevant elementary education to all children between six and 14 years.
  • Article 15(5): In 2006, the 93rd Constitution Amendment Act inserted Clause (5) in Article 15 which enabled the State to create special provisions such as reservations for the advancement of any backward classes of citizens like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, in all aided or unaided educational institutes, except minority educational institutes.
  • Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009: Section 12(1)(c) of the Act provided for 25% reservation of seats in unaided schools for admission of children from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.
  • However, Article 30 of the Constitution provides for the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions, with a view to provide opportunities to children from different religious and linguistic minority communities to have and conserve a distinct culture, script, and language.
  • Subsequently, in 2012, through an amendment, the institutions imparting religious education were exempted from following the RTE Act.
  • Later on, in 2014, the Supreme Court in the Pramati judgment declared the RTE Act inapplicable to schools with minority status.
Why RTE should be applied in Minority Institutes also?
  • Avoiding Religious Connotation in Formative Years: RTE exemption fail to consider that children aged between 6 and 14 years are in their formative years and such education brings about a religious connotation in the mind of children.
  • Level Playing Field: Introduction of common syllabus and common curriculum would enable every child to be placed on a level playing field for the challenges of the future.
  • Right of a child should not be restricted only to free education, but must be extended to have equal quality education without discrimination on the ground of child’s social economic and cultural background.
  • Adhering to Constitutional Values: It would meaningfully contribute in achieving the great golden goals as set out in the preamble, particularly fraternity, unity and national integration.

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