NCPCR releases report on education of children in minority communities
Polity & Governance
19th Aug, 2021
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has released a report —The “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Children in Minority Communities”. The Report assessed minority schools in the country.
What are the key-findings of the report?
- Many children who are enrolled in these institutions or schools were not able to enjoy the entitlements that other children are enjoying because the institution they are studying in is exempted and is enjoying the rights of minority institutions.
- Only 4.18% of total students received benefits such as freeships, free uniforms and books, scholarships, etc. from school.
- The Commission has also found surges in the number of schools applying for minority status certificates after the 93rd amendment was brought in, with more than 85% schools of the total schools securing the certificate in the years 2005-2009 and later.
Detrimental effects of the exemption
- Cocoons populated by elites: On the one hand there are schools (mostly Christian Missionary schools), which are admitting only a certain class of students and leaving underprivileged children out of the system.
- Backwardness: Other types of minority schools (in particular madarasas), have become “ghettos of underprivileged students languishing in backwardness’’. The Commission has said that students in madarasas which do not offer a secular course along with religious studies – such as the sciences – have fallen behind and feel a sense of alienation and “inferiority’’ when they leave school.
According to the report, there are three kinds of madrasas in the country-
- recognised madrasas which are registered and impart both religious as well as secular education.
- unrecognised madrasas which have been found deficient for registration by state governments as secular education is not imparted or other factors like lack of infrastructure.
- unmapped madrasas which have never applied for registration.
Major recommendations of the Report:
- Under the purview of RTE and SA: Minority schools are exempt from implementing The Right to Education policy and do not fall under the government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. NCPCR has recommended that these schools be brought under both RTE and SA.
RTE Act, 2009
- 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, benefits that students in minority schools have not been receiving.
- In 2014, the Pramati judgement made the entire RTE Act non-applicable on minority schools.
- The state governments need to introduce strict guidelines on the minimum percentage of minority students that these schools need to admit, as well as look at the proportion of schools run by a particular minority community in relation to the size of the population living in the state, before the school is awarded recognition.
What are minority institutions?
- Section 2(g) of the National Commission for Minority Education Institution Act- A minority institution means a college or institution (other than a university) established or maintained by a person or group of person from amongst the minority.
According to the report-
- Christians comprise 11.54 percent of the minority population but run 71.96 percent schools
- Muslims comprise 69.18 percent of the minority population but run 22.75 percent of schools
- Sikhs comprise 9.78 percent minority population and run 1.54 percent schools
- Buddhist comprise 3.83 percent minority population and run 0.48 percent schools
- Jains comprise 1.9 percent of the minority population and run 1.56 percent of schools
How a minority is determined?
- Here, a minority is to be determined only by reference to the demography of the state and not by taking into consideration the population of the country as a whole (TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka).
Landmark judgments regarding minority institutions
- TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka
- Re Kerala Education Bill
- The case of Ahmedabad St. Xaviers College
- Article 30 provides two rights i.e., to establish and to administer educational institutions to the Linguistic or religious minorities.
- The expression ‘establish and administer’ are to be read conjunctively.
- It means that to claim the benefit of Article 30(1), the community must show that it is a linguistic or religious minority and that the institution was established by it to claim the right to administer it.
The Constitution of India provides for the cultural and educational rights of the minorities under Articles 29 and 30.
- Article 29: General protection to the minorities to conserve their language etc. It protects the rights only of the Indian citizens.
- Article 30: It deals explicitly with the rights of the minorities to establish institutions of their choice.
Despite the large presence of minority students in school-going age groups, minority schools are catering to less than 8% of the minority children population. This is worrisome. Thus, there is need to lay down specific guidelines regarding the code of conduct of such minority institutions.