Even as educationists have repeatedly alleged that schools are scrambling to get a minority status to evade implementing 25 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) according to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, a CAG report has said that three unaided educational institutions granted minority status between March 2010 and April 2013 – Hiranandani Foundation Trust, Jamnaben Hirachand Ambani Foundation and Seth Rustomji Jamshetji Jijibhoy Gujrati School, all in Mumbai – have failed to follow rules that say a minority institution has to fill 50 per cent of seats from the minority community.
“Students belonging to the minority community admitted in these institutions during 2009-12 ranged between 2.55 and 26 per cent”, says the CAG report.
“The grant of minority status to institutions without notifying the rules prescribing the percentage governing admissions in the minority schools appeared to be irregular. More so as these minority institutions fall outside the ambit of the RTE Act and therefore have no obligations to admit children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker sections,” says the report.
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According to rules issued by the Maharashtra government in 2013, 25 per cent reservation for EWS in a school is applicable only at the entry level and unaided minority schools as well as madrasas, vedic pathshalas and educational institutions primarily imparting religious instruction are exempted from this rule.
The CAG report further says that considering there were 3,937 minority schools in the state as of September 2013, a “substantive section of children belonging to disadvantaged group and weaker section may have been deprived of the benefits of the RTE Act”.
The report says that according to Section 12C(b) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004, the minority status granted to an educational institution can be cancelled if, on verification of the records during inspection or investigation, it is found that it has failed to admit required number of students (50% of its strength) from the minority community (linguistic or religious) during any academic year.
Meanwhile, the report says that according to the Maharashtra Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Manner of admission of minimum 25 per cent children in Class I or pre-school at the entry level for the children belonging to disadvantaged group and weaker section) Rules 2013, seats in unaided schools meant for children from EWS are not to be diverted to children belonging to general category.
“Check of records relating to reservation of seats in 30 unaided schools in Thane, Mumbai, Nagpur, Yavatmal and Latur districts revealed that 192 such seats in 14 schools were diverted to children belonging to general category during the academic year 2013-14 in violation of rules. The diversion of reserved seats also indicated lack of monitoring by the DEO (district education officer)…,” it said. Of the reserved seats diverted, 90 were in Mumbai alone, followed by 64 in Thane, 25 in Latur and 13 in Nagpur, the report shows.