Terming it a grey area,the HRD Ministry has said the no-screening exemption under the Right to Education (RTE) Act for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas has to be clarified with the Law Ministry before it is granted.
The Law Ministry clearance is awaited. Navodaya Vidyalayas are going ahead with screening examinations. We have not issued any notification to them, a senior official in the HRD Ministry said. The Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) has said it is going ahead with the screening examinations for this year,citing examples of Sainik Schools that conducted its entrance examinations earlier this year. The NVS has announced screening tests for Class VI from July 10,after having delayed the exams for nearly six months,while they secured an exemption under the RTE Act that prohibits screening for admissions.
The RTE Act lists Navodaya Vidyalayas,Kendriya Vidyalayas,Sainik Schools,Sports School,Fine Arts and Music School and Special School for the Disabled as specified category institutions due to their distinct character. The Central Tibetan Schools administration,an autonomous organisation under the HRD Ministry,is also included in this category.
The Navodayas are meant to provide quality education to rural students and 75 per cent of their seats are reserved for rural children who score well in the screening test. While 25 per cent quota for children from Economically Weaker Sections an RTE Act requirement may not apply to Navodayas,as they cater to a predominantly rural population,they may yet have to agree to the no-screening clause,another requirement.
Every child is capable of learning. There is a provision for the lottery system and let them try it, said another HRD Ministry official. Besides,if the specified category schools are granted the no-screening exemption,private schools may demand the same,citing distinct character. The Navodayas have said its not possible to go for lottery system in 590 schools. This year,the number of applications is over 16 lakh. We have taken legal advice. We are a result of an education policy mandate like the RTE, Joint Commissioner of NVS M S Khanna said.
When his opinion was sought by the HRD Ministry,former CJI A S Anand had said since they were special category schools,the no-screening and 25 per cent reservation for children from EWS would not apply to the more than 500 JNVs across the country.