Unaided schools will have to admit 25% disadvantaged students at the entry level and cannot conduct interviews or tests for admissions, the union Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry has reiterated in two circulars issued last month.
The ministry's circulars were issued in response to representations from schools seeking clarity on admissions procedures under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. School admissions usually begin in December.
Several unaided schools across the country have contested the Right to Education Act that mandates these clauses, in the Supreme Court. They claim that the clauses interfere with the functioning of private institutions.
Unaided schools in Mumbai at a meeting last week discussed the clauses in the Act, but are yet to decide on whether to approach the Supreme Court.
According to the circulars issued on November 23, the 25% quota for disadvantaged students will have to be filled up by schools on the basis of "a random selection of the applications received from children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker sections for filling the pre-determined number of seats in that class."
For the remaining admissions, schools will not be able to profile children or their parents, conduct tests or interviews, and will have to select students "on a random basis."
Schools have complained that there is no clarity on what fees can be charged from students admitted under the unprivileged quota.
"If we cannot charge them the normal fees will the government reimburse us for these students?" asked a school principal. "We cannot hike the fees and expect parents of other students to pay for these children."
The circular asks schools to "formulate an admissions policy" that "should include criteria for categorisation of applicants in terms of the objectives of the school, on a rational, reasonable and just basis." Schools have said that this clause is ambiguous.