Schools cannot screen students or parents through tests or interviews but can set aside categories in admissions based on the background of students under the right to education Act.
The HRD ministry will issue a clarification defining what constitutes admissions screening barred under the law, amid concerns that the Act could be misinterpreted, HRD minister Kapil Sibal said on Saturday.
Established private schools need not undergo physical inspection for fresh recognition, and can submit affidavits declaring that they fulfill all requirements, the minister also said.
Sibal's statements came after a meeting with stakeholders over concerns during the implementation of the Act that promises schooling to children between age of 6 and 14.
"There was consensus on the key issues of how to deal with the matter of screening and on recognition of established schools," Sibal said.
Section 13(1) of the Act bans schools from subjecting children or their parents to "any screening procedure." Explanations accompanying the Act specify that students selection must only be through a random process — like a lottery.
But this clause — aimed at ensuring that schools do not try and test a child's ‘ability’ before admissions — led to concerns of a much wider interpretation.
Special schools like the Kendriya Vidyalayas, or schools for girls, tribals and other special categories could also be accused of violating the Act.
The ministry is yet to decide the form of clarification to define screening, but will make it clear that schools can admit specific categories of students, Sibal said.
These could include wards of alumni, siblings of students, aspirants belonging to the economically weaker section, girls, tribals or even children of parents from a particular background — like wards of government employees at KVs.
“However, within each category of students, selection must be random," the minister said adding that the government would ensure that only "non-discriminatory" and "transparent" special categories would be allowed.