Extend quota for poor students in minority schools, says panel

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The draft report on the new national policy on education submitted by a panel headed by T.S.R. Subramanian wants reservation for disadvantaged children to be extended to unaided minority schools.
“The committee feels that the larger national obligations to meet the rights of economically weaker sections should extend to all institutions including minority [religious and linguistic] institutions,” the report has recommended to the government. While the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, mandates that even private, unaided schools shall provide admission to children from disadvantaged groups and weaker sections in admission to Class-1 to the extent of at least 25 per cent of the admissions done, private, unaided minority institutions are exempt from this requirement.
The Supreme Court, in April, 2012, held that the provision did not extend to institutions set by minorities, which are defined as religious and linguistic minorities in India. The panel report says that “it is now important to reconcile the rights of the economically weaker sections with the rights of the minorities under Article 30 (1), particularly when minority institutions appear to clutch at any prop to ensure that their obligations, met by other aided or unaided schools, are circumvented.” The report calls for further examination of this, saying that it is necessary to ensure that “minority institutions are established only for genuine reasons envisaged by the Constitution…; that they do not use their constitutional privilege to manoeuvre out of national obligations established in overall public interest.”
The Right to Education Act includes the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes in its definition of “disadvantaged group” and defines a child belonging to “weaker sections” as one whose parent or guardian earns below a minimum level of income specified by the appropriate government.

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