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Minority Institutions and RTE: NCPCR Survey

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  • 11 Aug 2021
  • 7 min read

Why in News

Recently, the National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) conducted a Nationwide Assessment of Minority Schools. The report was titled “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Minority Communities”.

  • The aim was to assess how the 93rd Amendment to Indian Constitution, which exempts minority institutions from otherwise mandatory provisions of the Right to Education, affected children belonging to minority communities.
  • The report highlights the disproportionate number of minority institutions or dominance of non-minority category in Minority institutions.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

  • NCPCR is a statutory body set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  • The Commission's mandate is to ensure that all laws, policies, programmes, and administrative mechanisms are in consonance with the child rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • It inquires into complaints relating to a child's right to free and compulsory education under the Right to Education Act, 2009.
  • It monitors the implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

Key Points

  • Highlights of the Report:
    • Minority Schools Catering to the Non-Minorities: Overall, 62.5% of the students in these schools belonged to non-minority communities.
      • Only 8.76% of the students in minority schools belong to socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
    • Disproportionate Numbers: In West Bengal, 92.47% of the minority population is of Muslims and 2.47% are Christians. On the contrary, there are 114 Christian minority schools and only two schools with Muslim minority status.
      • Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, though the Christian population is less than 1% there are 197 Christian minority schools in the state.
      • This disproportion takes away the core objective of establishing minority educational institutions.
    • Non-Uniformity in Madarsas: It found that the largest number of out-of-school children – at 1.1 crore – belonged to the Muslim community.
      • According to the report, there are three kinds of madrasas in the country:
        • Recognised Madrasas: These are registered and impart both religious as well as 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.
      • According to the NCPCR, the Sachar Committee report 2005, which says 4% of Muslim children (15.3 lakh) attend madrasas, has only taken into account the registered madrasas.
      • Further, the syllabi of madrasas, that have evolved over centuries, are not uniform, and that “being left ignorant of the world around them”.
        • Many students develop an inferiority complex, being alienated from the rest of society and unable to adjust with the environment.
        • It also says that madrasas do not have any teachers training programmes.

Article 15(5), 30, 21A Linkage

  • Minority Institutions: Minority institutions have the fundamental right under Article 30 of the Constitution to establish and administer their educational institutions according to their choice.
    • However, they cannot ignore the regulations recommended by the state.
    • Further, the Supreme Court in the TMA Pai Foundation case, 2002 said that Article 30(1) was neither absolute nor above the law.
    • Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Zoroastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • Article 15 (5) (93rd Amendment to Indian Constitution): It empowers the state to make special provisions for the socially and educationally backward classes or the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in educational institutions including private educational institutions (whether aided or unaided by the state), except the minority educational institutions.
  • Right to Education (RTE): In order to implement Right to Education under Article 21A. The Act mandates 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the society where disadvantaged groups include:
    • SCs and STs
    • Socially Backward Class
    • Differently abled
  • Using Article 30 to Bypassing RTE: Minority schools are outside the purview of the RTE Act. Further, in 2014, the Supreme Court in Pramati judgment made the whole RTE Act inapplicable to minority schools.
    • The NCPCR survey highlighted that as many schools and institutions have registered as minority institutions, simply because they don’t have to implement RTE.
  • Suggestions:
    • The government should bring all such schools, including madrasas, under the purview of the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.
    • The NCPCR also backed reservation for students from minority communities in such schools after its survey found a large proportion of non-minority students studying there.
      • There is a need to lay down specific guidelines regarding the minimum percentage of students from the minority community to be admitted to the institution.
    • There is a need to review the exemption made under RTE with respect to minority institutions.
      • Article 30 of Indian constitution ensures the right of minorities to open their own institutions for cultural, linguistic and religious protection.
      • However, it should not contravene with Article 21(A) which protects a child’s fundamental right to education.

Source: IE

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