Regardless of whether their fathers are blue-collar or white-collar workers, children at schools across the city, now have to sit together in class every day.
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of the Right to Education (RTE) Act and said that schools would have to reserve 25% of their seats for children from the economically disadvantaged sections.
Though the RTE Act came into force on April 1, 2010, the Maharashtra government is yet to notify the rules to implement the 25% reservation clause.
With Thursday’s SC ruling, there is no escaping the fact that the implementation of the reservation will now be mandatory in government and private schools (except minority-run private schools). These schools will have to accommodate disadvantaged students from Class 1 or at the entry level of the school.
Schools principals appeared apprehensive about how the policy would affect class dynamics.
“How will a student from an economically weaker section adjust to a school in an affluent area such as Cuffe Parade? The state government needs to clearly define the students who will come under the 25% quota,” said MP Sharma, principal, GD Somani School in Cuffe Parade.
“A child living in the slum will find it difficult to adjust to his peers from well-to-do families. He will remain a misfit in the bigger group. A child could also be discriminated against for gaining admission under the 25% quota. There will always remain a cultural difference,” said Basanti Roy, educationist and former secretary of the state board’s Mumbai division.
Schools are also concerned about the financial implication of the clause, as expenditure for each child will differ from school to school.
Minority-run institutions welcomed the fact that the SC verdict has clarified that the 25% reservation clause is not applicable to minority unaided schools. “In our school we already have provisions for freeships and scholarships for students. But enrolling 25% students from the disadvantaged section would be difficult, given the current circumstances,” said Meera Isaacs, principal, Cathedral and John Connon School.
“Though ours is a minority unaided school and we will not come under the RTE Act, we will have to work together to make the RTE Act a reality,” said Carl Laurie, principal Christ Church School in Byculla.
SV Kedia, honorary secretary of the city-based Unaided Schools’ Forum, which was one of the petitioners before the apex court, said: “We have raised many questions through our petition. But a lot of them remain unanswered. We are happy that partly the judgment has been in our favour.”