Should Minority Run Educational Institutions; Continue 25% Reservation?
By Fr. Anand Muttungal
The Indian Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which provides for free and compulsory education to children between the age of 6 and 14 years and mandates government schools and private schools alike even the aided minority educational institutions too comes under the ambit. At the same time the unaided minority schools are kept away from it.
The judgment said: “We hold that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 is constitutionally valid and shall apply to a school established, owned or controlled by the appropriate Government or a local authority; an aided school including aided minority school(s) receiving aid or grants to meet whole or part of its expenses from the appropriate Government or the local authority; a school belonging to specified category; and an unaided non-minority school not receiving any kind of aid or grants to meet its expenses from the appropriate Government or the local authority.”
After Church of Madhya Pradesh issued an official statement the Church run schools will not disturb those children who are admitted or selected to the academic year of 2012-2013. I received a number of phone calls asking for the clarification to the stand taken by the Church in Madhya Pradesh. Some principals went open saying that they will not be admitting anybody under RTE any more. Some wanted to know whether we can get reimbursement from the Government for the children that we have admitted under this category. In a matter of a few hours I experienced a lot of disagreements from different parts of the state. Even though I knew that many may not have gone through various aspects of the judgements but it still troubled my conscience. Because I believed that the primary objective of every diocese and religious congregation is serving the poor.
The CJI who wrote in the judgment said: “… the admissions given by unaided minority schools prior to the pronouncement of this judgment shall not be reopened.” It further said, “It is true that, as held in the T.M.A. Pai Foundation as well as the P.A. Inamdar judgments, the right to establish and administer an educational institution is a fundamental right, as long as the activity remains charitable under Article 19(1) (g). However, in the said two decisions the correlation between Articles 21 and 21A, on the one hand, and Article 19(1) (g), on the other, was not under consideration.
We must remember that any school that denies admission to the children whom they have selected or admitted for the coming academic year (2012-13), will mount to contempt of Court. It can even lead to serious punishments. It is also to be noted that each person involved in the mission has a moral responsibility to project the right image of Christ through our schools. Christianity is known for its works of charity and service to the poor and less privileged.
It is a common fact that all those children whom we have admitted under RTE category are not genuinely poor. It opens a possibility to collect their income certificates and charge accordingly but education of the poor and less privileged must not be stopped. It is true that we are no more bound to reserve 25 % for the less privileged but our social responsibly has not lessened but has challenged our real willingness to teach the less privileged. It is very important to understand that all RIGHTS in the constitution are meant to build a nation of people brought up in culture and education. And above all Christianity has been the forerunner of the same.