Angry that unaided minority schools have been exempt from the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the Forum for Fairness in Education (FFIE) plans to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court. FFIE is challenging a notification exempting schools from reserving seats for children from economically weak families.
The latest RTE notification, uploaded on a government website on March 20, said unaided minority schools will not have to set aside 25% of their seats for children from economically weaker and disadvantaged groups. FFIE, an NGO working against corruption in education, said the notification is against the spirit of the RTE Act. The Forum alleged that if the notification is enforced, the burden for implementing RTE will fall only on a few schools, as over 80% of schools in Mumbai fall under the minority unaided category.
“With just a handful of seats available to them, very few poor students will be able to secure admission in good quality schools,” said Jayant Jain, president, FFIE.
The Forum also said unaided minority schools, many of which claimed minority status to escape obligations under the RTE Act, are flouting all norms of being a minority institution.
“A minority institution is supposed to have 50% students belonging to that minority community, but in most such schools there are hardly 5 to 10% minority students. If they do not mind admitting students from non-minority groups, why are they opposing students from weaker sections?” he asked.
Jain said the notification is contrary to the state’s interpretation of the amendment to the Act. Earlier, the former project director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan interpreted the amendment to mean that only vedic pathshaalas, madrassas and other schools offering theological education would be exempt from RTE. Now, the interpretation is that schools that do not receive aid from the government and are run by a minority group will be exempt from the Act.