No school can deny admission to a child on the ground of disability, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) ruled recently in a case in which a disabled child was allegedly denied admission by three schools.
Taking cognisance of media reports in 2012, which said a five-year-old boy was not given admission by three south Mumbai-based schools, the commission issued notices to Campion School, Cathedral and John Connon School and Byramjee Jeejeeboy Parsee Charitable Institution. The three schools jointly filed their submission, stating they are unaided minority schools and hence, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, is not applicable on them.
Disappointed with the alleged response of the schools, the parents also had an expert evaluate their child to ascertain whether he was in a position to cope with studies in a regular school. The expert, in the report, declared the child fit to attend mainstream or formal schooling. The boy was later given admission in a Colaba school.
“In the said case, the test is whether the schools in question serve or promote the interest of a minority section. In the schools, the medium of instruction is English, majority of the teachers and students are not from minority community, the schools are imparting secular education, the syllabus is approved by the CBSE/ICSE/SSC boards and is secular in nature. Therefore, the schools are not, in any manner, promoting the interest of the minority community. Therefore, these institutions cannot get the benefit of Article 29(1) and 30(1) (of the Constitution of India) and thus shall attract the provision of the RTE Act. The respondents did not produce any documents or material by which it can be established that the schools are serving the interest of a minority section,” says the detailed order, passed last week.
Article 30(1) gives linguistic or religious minorities the right to establish and the right to administer educational institutions of their choice.
The commission’s order says the child has a right to admission according to the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. According to chapter five of the Act, appropriate governments and local authorities will have to ensure that every child with a disability has access to free education in an appropriate environment till he attains the age of 18 years and “endeavour to promote the integration” of students with disabilities in the “normal schools”.
“Provision of the RTE Act will be applicable against the schools in question. The disabled child has right to get admission in schools under RTE and chapter five of the persons with disabilities act. Schools are directed not to deny admission of children on ground of disability,” says the final order.