While the government plans to reserve around 30% seats in first-year junior college (FYJC) online admissions for girl students from socially weak backgrounds, educators and activists are divided over whether this kind of “positive discrimination” is justified.
The seats will be available in the form of ‘compartmentalised reservation’ in the existing 50% quota for socially weaker sections followed in non-minority colleges, according to a recent government resolution (GR). It will not be compulsory for minority colleges.
Currently, non-minority colleges have 19% quota for other backward classes (OBC), 13% for scheduled castes (SC), 7% for scheduled tribes (ST), 8% for nomadic tribes, 3% for de-notified tribes, and 2% for special backward classes (SBC).
Within each of these quotas, 30% seats will be kept for girls, states the GR. “This is the first time a special reservation is being made for girls in the FYJC admission process,” said BB Chavan, deputy director of education, Mumbai region, which includes Thane, Palghar and Raigad.
Chavan said the quota will not affect the general category seats. Even if girls from socially weak sections apply through the general category, we will admit them through the quota, so open category seats will not be touched, he said. Explaining how this will be done, Chavan said, “If a college has 10 seats for girls, for instance, and seven of them are filled by open category students who belong to those groups, then only three more seats will be kept in the quota.”
Officials said the reservation is a step towards women empowerment, but activists and educators aren’t convinced.
A Pune-based non-government organisation, SYSCOM, which filed a petition in the Bombay high court (HC) against the state government for conducting FYJC admissions in a slipshod manner, has written to the department objecting to the quota.
One of their major objections is a separate reservation for girls is not needed because the number of girls applying passing the Class 10 board exams is more than boys. Last year, 93, 367 girls had applied for FYJC online admissions, compared to 91,607 boys.
“Girls are scoring much better than boys in board exams and bagging top seats in colleges. Giving them a reservation would be unfair on boys,” said Vaishali Bafna, one of the petitioners from SYSCOM.
College principals, too, said such a quota isn’t needed in metros. Vidyadhar Joshi, vice-principal, VG Vaze Kelkar College, Mulund, said the quota will be more beneficial to girls from rural areas. “The quota is justified in rural areas where girls don’t get the same opportunities as boys. But that’s hardly the case in Mumbai,” said Joshi.