About us    Campaigns    Research    Support us    Publications    Media Room    Join Us    Contact us
 

Brown v. Board of Education at 60

Education, Minority Education

19-05-2014

The Huffington Post

Supreme Court decisions are important not only for what they decide but for the reasoning that produces or explains the ultimate result. That is particularly important in iconic decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education, decided 60 years ago.

Brown, of course, unanimously held that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. In reaching that result, it also articulated or relied on other basic principles including that fair educational opportunity is essential to the American Dream, that America should be one nation for all citizens, not separate nations racially divided, and that the Constitution’s meaning evolves over time as experience informs and shapes its content.

Yet among the principles central to Brown was the basic American ideal that majorities should be sensitive to the rights, interests and reasonable perceptions of minorities, and that public policies which offend that imperative may be constitutionally offensive even when they formally treat majority and minority citizens the same.

Brown addressed that problem in the context of public education, specifically the practice in some states of providing “separate but equal” public schools for white and black children. Typically, of course, the schools for black children were inferior in tangible respects so they were not only separate but very unequal. But in Brownlower courts had found that some of the racially segregated schools were equal or becoming so in material respects, a finding which forced the Court to consider whether state sponsored separation itself was constitutionally impermissible even when the schools were equal with respect to buildings, curriculum, teacher qualifications and salaries and other measurable criteria.

The Court found that racially segregating children in public schools by itself deprived African-American children of equal educational opportunities. It reached that decision based on its conclusion that racial segregation signaled to African-American children that they were inferiors, outsiders in the American community, and that this message caused them constitutional harm. Indeed, it was widely understood that “separate but equal” was a strategy a white majority imposed to keep blacks apart.

Although some have claimed that Brown stands for the principle that classifying based on race is never permitted (not even to achieve diversity or remedy past discrimination), the Court’s words in that celebrated decision refute that interpretation. The Court characterized the issue for decision as whether racial segregation in public schools “deprive[s] the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities,” not whether racial segregation or racial classification hurt white children or all children. The reason racial segregation was offensive was that separating minority children “from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” These words and this rationale would have made no sense in 1954 as applied to white children. Brown did not proscribe all racial classifications but simply those that subjugated minorities.

Jim Crow segregation which Brown addressed was not, of course, a product of good faith reasoning. Its message of black inferiority, and of white superiority, were natural consequences of white supremacist thinking.

Yet Brown did not reject majority messages of black inferiority solely when produced by malevolent intent. Instead, the Court articulated a broader principle regarding the rights of racial minorities in America.

In our democratic system, majorities often prevail but subject to various structural arrangements to make law-making difficult. And even when majorities work their will through the legislative process, judicial review constrains majority preference.

Brown suggests that in exercising judicial review it’s often important for courts to consider the impact on minorities of programs majorities impose. It’s not simply that minorities are often subjected to prejudice and are not well-positioned to prevail in the political process, although those factors certainly are important.

It’s also because most of us are a lot better at seeing the merit of our own views than at understanding the perspectives of people different from ourselves. It’s relatively easy to convince ourselves that our own views are reasonable, even right. It’s harder, often even for people of good will, to see the world through the eyes of those situated differently vis a vis various laws or practices.

That simple fact of human nature makes it likely that majoritarian solutions will often undervalue the just concerns of minorities and may produce arrangements that seem appropriate to majorities but are unfairly hurtful to minorities. Sometimes the harm is deliberately imposed but often it reflects subconscious biases or comes from the failure to understand, rather than from any desire to hurt. America’s mistreatment of African-Americans presents, of course, the most egregious example of discrimination against a minority but instances of this phenomenon have hurt other less powerful groups including those based on gender, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, alienage and disability.

The 60 years since Brown have brought considerable progress in recognizing, and in trying to remedy, a range of injustices against African-Americans and against other minority groups. Those years have shown that many of these problems are not easily resolved. They also confirm that America has an enormous stake in continuing that quest, not only to fashion a more just society but also one which benefits from the talents of all, not simply those who are privileged. Quite clearly, much remains to be done.

Government and its citizens must continually be sensitive to how majoritarian solutions impact minorities and whether social arrangements send a message that they are lesser members of society, and should act to remedy such affronts. That is one of the implications of a pluralistic society and one of the enduring lessons of Brown.

Comments Off

‘Should minorities be deprived of quality education?’

Minority Education, Right to Education

12-05-2014

Zee News

New Delhi: A Supreme Court judgment holding that the RTE Act guaranteeing free education to children from socially and economically-backward sections is not applicable to minority-run institutions is not finding many takers in the legal fraternity who feel it is flawed and would deprive hundreds of thousands of children from vulnerable sections of quality education.

Though a few swear to the minorities the right to administer their institutions without any interference by the state as the law stands today, others feel that no exceptions could be made for implementing rights-based laws like the right to free education. Another view is that the state should not interfere with education at all.

The judgment by a five-judge constitution bench has come in for critical appraisal on the grounds that the rights conferred on minorities under the Constitution’s article 30 (1) to establish and administer their institutions could not be taken recourse to restrict the application of the progressive law that confers the right to education on all children.

Besides this, some legal experts feel that an 11-judge-bench verdict in the 2002 T.M.A. Pai Foundation case needs to be revisited as it was coming in the way of children being admitted to these schools and that article 30(1) could not be read in absolute terms, when even fundamental rights are subject to reasonable restrictions.

In this case, the apex court granted absolute immunity to private, unaided educational institutions, including those of minorities, in admissions, leaving them to decide the manner in which students should be taken in and barred any interference by the state.

Legal experts, however, said that the rights that minorities get under article 30(1) could not be elevated above the fundamental rights, noting there are regions in West Bengal and other eastern and northeastern states where bulk of the schools are run by the minorities.

“If it is an aided minority institution, then there is no reason why the RTE Act should not apply to it,” senior counsel Colin Gonsalves told IANS.

“I think a law of this nature should be applied without exception,” he added.

Describing the judgment as “fundamentally wrong”, Gonsalves said: “The original mistake made by the Supreme Court is in the T.M.A. Pai case where it privatized education. This was a huge mistake and children of India are suffering on account of this decision.

“It is because of T.M.A.Pai judgment that we find the Supreme Court holding today that progressive statutes like the Right to Education Act are not applicable to particular schools. It is fundamentally wrong,” Gonsalves maintained.

Senior counsel Ravindra Shrivastava said that “the judgment goes by the constitution because of constitutional provisions.”

“Personally speaking, with regard to the proliferation of commercial education institutes and their impact, I think that the RTE Act should apply across all institutions irrespective of the nature of their ownership,” Shrivastava told IANS, agreeing that on “certain aspects, the T.M.A. Pai judgment needs to be revisited”.

Senior counsel C.A. Sundaram, however, said he did not believe that there should be any interference with education and “the principle laid down in T.M.A. Pai case respecting the autonomy of unaided private institutions should continue to be respected”.

Sundram said that once the RTE Act has been upheld, its being applicable to private institutions is a natural corollary.

However, senior counsel Jaspal Singh was of the view that granting protection to minority institutions was a laudable objective and should not be interfered with in the name of enforcing the right to education.

“The laudable object of the constitutional provision is to protect the minorities and provide avenues of education to them. This is a special provision under which minorities are opening institutions, they are open to all. Nearly 80 percent students in Sikh institutions are from other communities,” he noted.

Comments Off

Should Minority Schools be Exempted from the Right to Education (RTE) Act Norms?

Minority Education, Right to Education

Karmanye

The Supreme Court has, in a recent verdict, by a majority of 2:1, upheld the validity of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, most significantly the clause mandating 25% reservation for economically weaker children, but exempted unaided minority institutions (the term ‘minority’ has been used in both the linguistic and religious contexts and it applies in the context of respective states) from the same. The judgment has been widely criticized on this account by several scholars of the law such as Prof. Krishnaswamy and this is indeed an interesting issue of constitutional law wherein three categories of fundamental rights (not other constitutional rights) are juxtaposed with each other.

In this blog, I argue that the critique of the judgment is well founded and there is no convincing justification to exempt minority schools from the 25% reservation regulation.

The exemption granted to minority institutions is on the basis of Article 30 of the Indian constitution, which is stated hereunder -

“Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.—(1) All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

(1A) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority, referred to in clause (1), the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause.

(2) The State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.”

Now, none of the clauses have anything to do with the matter at hand i.e. exemption from RTE, except that as regards clause 2, it may be argued that not only does the exemption not discriminate against minority schools, but on the other hand, it discriminates in their favour. This is so, because the right of non-minority private entities “to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business” under Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution has been held in this very judgment to be reasonably restricted in the light of Article 21A of the constitution inserted by way of the 86th Amendment, upholding the right to education for all in the age group of six to fourteen years. Then why should minorities get the privilege? Their right to “establish and administer educational institutions” under Article 30(1), one may argue, is basically no different from that of other private individuals who wish to take up establishing and administering educational institutions as the occupation of their choice under Article 19(1)(g); so, where is the difference? To my mind, the difference can arise only if Article 30(1) is read with Article 29(1) (both Articles 29 and 30 of the constitution fall under the head of Cultural and Educational Rights), which states -

“Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

The title of Article 29 is ‘Protection of interests of minorities’ and so, the right of minority communities, linguistic or religious, to establish and administer educational institutions under Article 30(1) is in the light of allowing them to take steps to help them preserve their language and/or culture. But, does the imposition of the 25% quota take away their right to do so (considering the assumption, right or wrong, that the RTE Act is not to be treated as violative of other non-minority school managements’ right to run their institutions)? Not in any way I can think of, for they are still free to teach their language and/or religion. If minority colleges like St. Stephen’s College can have a Christian quota as also quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs (though I am dead against caste-based reservations or even income-based reservations at the college level, since I believe that compromising on merit isn’t a good idea, though I am fine with minority colleges granting a quota to students of their community so long as the students availing of their quota are mandatorily taught their language and/or religion in that college once they join), then minority schools (P12 institutions) can also have a fixed quota for students of their particular community and a separate 25% quota for the poor.

The obvious implication of this judgment was bound to be the opening of a floodgate for claims to minority status, which is indeed happening.

In my opinion, the judgment amounts to a miscarriage of justice and has dangerous implications with respect to interpreting constitutional law in the future. It may be in conformity with the vested interests of certain political parties to appease religious minorities (or even the majority Hindu community in other contexts), but our judiciary should be above this and should not read too much into constitutional safeguards for the minorities so as to divest them from statutory responsibilities for the larger national cause, in which the economically deprived of their communities have as much to gain. 25% reservation for economically weaker children practically makes for the largest venture in the world wherein quality education of private schools can be extended to the poor as well, with the Government bearing the financial burden, and as I see it, there’s no reason why unaided minority schools, such as unaided convent schools, many of which are highly renowned, should not be a part of this huge social phenomenon that can help transform the face of this country.

Comments Off

Turkey passes law to shut schools run by Erdogan arch-rival Gulen

Minority Education, Private schools

01-03-2014

Live Mint & The Wall Street Journal

Ankara: Turkey’s parliament has passed a Bill to close down thousands of private schools, many of which are run by an influential Muslim cleric locked in a bitter feud with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The move will strike a blow to Erdogan’s ally-turned-rival Fethullah Gulen, for whom the schools are a major source of income, as he stands accused of seeking to topple the government with a damaging corruption scandal.

The Bill, which was approved late on Friday, sets 1 September 2015 as the deadline to close down the network of schools.

There are around 4,000 private schools in Turkey, including an unknown number of preparatory schools run by Gulen’s movement.

Tensions have long simmered between Erdogan and Gulen, who once worked hand-in-hand as the conservative pro-business middle class rose at the expense of the military and former secular elite.

But they reached breaking point in November when Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government first floated the idea of shutting down the schools, which aim to help students prepare for high school and university.

Erdogan said at the time he wanted to abolish an unfair education system.

“Those who benefit from these courses are the kids of rich families in big cities,” said the premier, who himself hails from humble roots and has tried to cultivate an image as a man of the people during his time in office.

Eyup Kilci, deputy principal of the Gulen-affiliated Guvender school network in Ankara, condemned the new legislation, telling AFP it gives Turkey the unenviable distinction of being “the only country which bans education activities”.

Protests against corruption

Erdogan’s feud with Gulen escalated in mid-December, when dozens of the premier’s political and business allies were detained in police raids on allegations of bribery in construction projects, gold smuggling and illicit dealings with Iran.

Erdogan accused so-called Gulenists implanted in Turkey’s police and judiciary of instigating the corruption probe in a bid to undermine his government ahead of local elections on 30 March and presidential elections in August.

He retaliated by sacking hundreds of police and prosecutors believed to be linked to Gulen.

The scandal, which brought down four ministers and prompted a cabinet reshuffle, has evolved into the most serious challenge yet to Erdogan since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

This week, the graft controversy widened to directly implicate Erdogan himself, after recordings were leaked online in which the premier can allegedly be heard discussing hiding large sums of cash and conspiring to extort a bribe from a business associate.

The incriminating tapes have prompted the opposition to call for Erdogan’s resignation, while angry residents have staged protests against government corruption.

In a fresh rally on Saturday, some 600 protesters took to the streets in Ankara, shouting “They are thieves” and “Government, resign!”.

Some demonstrators were seen handing out fake euros in a mocking reference to the leaked audio tapes, which the government insists were fabricated.

At an election rally in the northwestern city of Kirklareli, Erdogan accused Gulen loyalists of “espionage” that threatened national security and warned that they would pay a “heavy price”.

“They wiretapped Turkey’s very confidential and very strategic conversations, and disclosed them to other (enemies),” he said. “Can there be such treachery and lowness?”

Observers say Gulen’s Hizmet (Service) movement risks losing millions of dollars in revenue once its Turkish educational institutions are closed down under the new legislation.

In other attempts to contain the political crisis, Erdogan’s government has recently also pushed through legislation tightening state control over the Internet and the judiciary, raising questions at home and abroad about the state of democracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has been living in the United States since 1999 to escape charges of plotting against the secular state by the then-government, has denied any involvement in the corruption probe.

The Hizmet movement also runs an estimated number of 500 private schools around the world. AFP

 

Comments Off

Govt launch scheme worth Rs 600 to educate adult Muslims

Access to education, Minority Education

18-Feb-2014

Business Standard

Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, the government today launched a new programme for educating adult Muslims, targeting over one crore of them.

The programme ‘Maulana Azad Taleem-e-Balighan’, launched by Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor, aims to impart functional literacy, vocational skill development and continuing education to one crore Muslim adults with an outlay of Rs 600 crore.

Besides, it promises to provide opportunities for upscaling basic education to around 2.5 lakh adults from the community and imparting livelihood skill training to around three lakh beneficiaries.

“410 Sakshar Bharat Districts will be covered with a financial outlay of Rs 600 crore during the current Plan Period,” an official statement said.

In the statement, the government claimed that the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language is undertaking many activities to promote, develop and propagate the language in the country.

The affirmative interventions made under various schemes for promotion of education of the minorities has shown encouraging results, it said.

“Enrolment of Muslim children at primary level as percentage of total enrolment has increased from 9.4% in 2006-07 to 14.2% in 2012-13, and at the upper primary level, from 7.2% to 12.1% during the same period,” it said.

“A more welcome feature of the development is that more Muslim girls are coming to schools,” the statement added.

Comments Off

Minorities in higher education: A pipeline problem?

Higher Education, Minority Education

Beheruz N. Sethna
The University of West Georgia

INTRODUCTION

Critics of the Higher Education system might claim that the relatively low percentages of minorities in Higher Education represent a failure of our system to provide sufficient minority graduates, sufficient numbers of minority participants in the economic progress that results from the holding of degrees, and the relative dearth of minority role models for our young minorities. However, an opposing point of view states that these low percentages and numbers are simply a reflection of the “pipeline problem.” “The Pipeline Problem” in this context is defined as the defence that there are low numbers (or percentages) of minorities coming through the system – at each stage, if the “Input” is small, then, even the best processes of creating good products, are doomed to turn out, at best, low quantities of “Output.” In effect, if we look at this as a “production process” (for the creation of Bachelor’s degrees, or any other stage of higher education), it would look like this:

INPUT  PRODUCTION PROCESS  OUTPUT

If the input is very low, then the best of efficiencies in the production process will turn out low numbers of output. Though one might more reasonably call it an Input Problem, this is what is commonly referred to as the Pipeline Problem – and it will be so labeled in this paper.

So, do the low production percentages of Bachelor’s degrees in the case of most minorities represent more a reflection of a failure of the higher education system to encourage minorities to complete college, or is it a reflection of a pipeline problem (low percentage input)? It is reasonable to assume that percentage input of minorities will indeed be low, so, as we study this question, we will not attempt to apportion “blame” between these two possible causes of low minority output. Rather, we will simply study if the process is turning out output for minorities at least the same rate as it does for the majority. We accept that in many cases, it should work better than it does for the majority, to compensate for low input. However, if it does at least as well, there may a reasonable case to be made that the problem of low minority output is more a result of low input (the pipeline problem) rather than a flawed production process.

RESULTS

In a similar fashion to the preceding analysis, computations have been done for each minority group relative to the majority, and for each stage in the pipeline – not just the educational pipeline, but through employment and progression through academic and administrative ranks. These results are shown graphically in Figures 2-11 (as given in the paper). The details of each analysis have not been replicated in as much detail as was presented in the preceding section, but the results of progression or conversion through the pipeline are presented graphically — for each stage of the pipeline and for each minority group relative to the majority. For convenience of representation, the conversion rate for the majority is represented as the baseline, and so a positive percentage rate for a minority group implies that the progress of that minority through the pipeline is that much better than that of the majority, and a negative percentage rate for a minority group implies that the progress of that minority through the pipeline is that much worse than that of the majority.

The bright blue bars represent any case in which any minority group’s advancement through any stage of the pipeline is not only lower than that of the majority, but at least 10 per cent lower than that of all the other minority groups. They point out the most pressing need for intervention and assistance from national bodies such as AGB, AASCU, ACE, and others. Some brief comments are included on each graph. Broader conclusions follow the presentation of the graphs. The Bachelor’s to Master’s results were discussed in considerable detail in the preceding section, but the graph is included below for the sake of completeness.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Different ethnic groups need support and assistance to succeed at different stages of the academic pipeline. These imbalances can be corrected only with a substantial commitment of energy and resources from the entire higher education community – to include national organizations such as AASCU and ACE, Governing Boards and AGB, System heads, national search firms, and higher education partners. Such, then, is the recommendation – that all of these players and partners commit themselves to helping all groups – the majority and each minority population achieve success at all stages of the higher education pipeline.

Click here to read more: http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/11913.pdf

Comments Off

Bombay high court reserves verdict on RTE for unaided minority schools

Courts and PILs, Minority Education

Time of India

12-10-2013

PUNE: The Bombay high court on Friday reserved its judgment on the writ petitions filed by Bishop’s, St Mary’s and other city schools challenging the applicability of the provision of 25% quota for children of weaker and disadvantaged sections of the society in case of unaided minority institutions, under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

“Arguments by all parties concluded before the court today. The bench has reserved its judgment and we expect it to come after Diwali vacation,” high court government pleader S K Shinde told TOI on Friday. The matter is being heard by the high court division bench of justices A S Oka and Revati Mohite-Dhere. The schools have cited the Supreme Court judgment of 2012 to contend that the RTE Act provisions were not applicable to unaided minority institutions.

However, the Pune zilla parishad (ZP), which had directed the schools to cancel their 2013-14 admissions for not adhering to the 25% quota provision, insisted that the schools had received aid in the form of concessions in property tax, lease of land from the government and thus cannot be viewed as unaided.

At a previous hearing, the court had observed that whether facilities like concession in property tax can be termed as ‘aid’ requires a wider debate. This is also to determine whether the petitioner schools get any aid from the state, the Centre or the local authority to fall within the ambit of the RTE Act provisions.

Shinde said, “We have argued on behalf of the state that it is for the Central government to decide and clarify as to what constitutes an aid or grant vis-a-vis applicability of the 25% quota, considering that RTE is a central enactment. The court has no jurisdiction over the matter.”

Apart from the Bishop’s and St Mary’s, Saraswati Vidyalaya (SV) Union school is the third petitioner. Minority institution head P A Inamdar also filed a separate petition.

In May, the high court had allowed the three schools of Bishop’s to fill 75% of its seats on a first-come-first-served basis while the admissions to the remaining 25% seats will be subject to the outcome of the court’s final order. A similar relief was also given to St Mary’s and the other schools.

Comment

Educating the Muslim girl child – in a Mughal-era structure

Girl Child Education, Minority Education

By Meha Mathur

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

India Forum

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Functioning in a Mughal-era structure near Jama Masjid in the capital’s old quarters is the Balak Mata Centre of Jamia Millia Islamia, one of India’s oldest universities. The centre, located in Matia Mahal, provides education and vocational training to deprived Muslim girls and women.

 

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Functioning in a Mughal-era structure near Jama Masjid in the capital’s old quarters is the Balak Mata Centre of Jamia Millia Islamia, one of India’s oldest universities. The centre, located in Matia Mahal, provides education and vocational training to deprived Muslim girls and women.

The centre runs from a two-storeyed structure, which, according to a DDA Urban Heritage Certificate Award given in 1993, was used by emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) as a “home” while the Red Fort was being built. At one point of time, a Mughal prince’s begum used it as her residence. Later, the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, gave it to one of his grandsons.

The building, which has undergone many alterations, follows the traditional Indian architectural pattern of a courtyard surrounded by rooms on three sides.

The concept of Balak Mata Centre emerged in the late 1930s under the aegis of the torchbearers of Jamia – Zakir Husain, M. Mujeeb, Abid Hussain and Shafiqur Rehman Kidwai – who felt it was necessary to bring women and girls out of homes and provide them education. It originally started from Karol Bagh, from where Jamia was then functioning out of a few bungalows.

There are three branches of the centre – in Matia Mahal, Sadar Bazar and Pul Bangash – running today, providing schooling to girls till Class 5. The centre also provides skill-based programmes in computers, textile designing, cutting and tailoring and beauty therapy to women in the neighbourhood to make them employable.

A dark and narrow bylane leads to the nondescript entrance of the centre and but for a small signboard, it’s easy to miss it. Inside, the classrooms are airy and have colourful furniture in accordance with modern tastes, a few small slides and a merry-go-round. There is a dedicated lab for the computer course and a sewing unit for the cutting-tailoring course.

Centre director Yasmeen Parveen says that her team has to make a great effort to convince people to let girls and women come out of their homes. “Even today, the situation is that they don’t want to come out of their homes. We have had to do a door-to-door survey to identify the needy children and women,” Parveen told IANS.

Parveen and her team also keep a tab of students’ needs. In fact, she and her colleagues say that there are instances when a child does not get her first meal even when she returns home. In such situations, the teachers have often pooled in to help.

In addition to education and skill-development programmes, the Centre conducts health awareness drives, literacy melas, adolescent camps for young girls, and extension lectures on community needs, drawing experts from within Jamia Millia Islamia and outside.

Comment

Minority + RTE = Chaos

Minority Education, Right to Education

BANGALORE: The obstacles in enforcing the Right to Education Act (RTE) seem unending. Just when things were beginning to fall into place a new row has broken out over the state government’s decision to give the minority tag under RTE only to educational institutions which admit 75 per cent of their students from the community concerned. With their hopes of escaping the RTE’s diktat on reserving 25 per cent of seats in elite schools for underpriveleged children dashed, several schools have voiced strong opposition to such a definition of minority institutes claiming it is a threat to their constitutional rights.

Chairman of the Minority Institutes Association, Gulshed Ahmed, says that till now all schools which made 50 per cent admissions from a religious or linguistic minority community were given minority status and there is no reason why this should not continue. But education officers contend that in reality schools and colleges which enjoy the minority tag today do not fulfill any of the criteria laid down. “Generally all schools and colleges started and run by people from minority communities are treated as minority institutes. Many institutes in the city claim this status without government approval and raise the issue only when it tries to take any decision on reserving seats for poor students or on their fee structure,” says a senior officer.

Experts feel that government should, in fact, extend the 75 per cent admission formula to higher education institutes as well to stop them from playing the minority card. Academic Dr.K V Shenoy says the government should provide all facilities and concessions due to minority institutes only if they give enough seats to students from their own communities. “Presently, most minority institutes unfairly get the tag in the name of poor students from their communities without really making any provision for them,” he says.

The misuse is sometimes blatant, according to education officers. “This year one medical college in Shimoga surrendered only 27 per cent of its seats to the government saying it was a minority institute, when it had just applied for minority status,” he recalls.

Unequal treatment for unequals

To bring groups of people who are ‘linguistically, scripturally and culturally different from the rest and are identifiable” into mainstream society the Constitution encourages minorities to set up educational institutes and promote their language and culture. These rights guaranteed under Articles 29 and 30 have been deemed absolute by the Supreme Court and minority institutes also enjoy a degree of autonomy in managing their own affairs.

So when the state government defined minority schools as those with a 75 per cent student body from the said community, it caused an uproar. The 75 per cent mark would be impossible to achieve, said those managing these institutes.

“Till now the percentage of a particular minority in an area was taken into account. If that was 10 per cent, a school with 50 per cent that number was deemed a minority institution,” says Mr Gulshed Ahmed, chairman of the Minority Institutes’Association. “We have discussed this with the education minister already and have been asked to present an appeal, which we will do next week. If nothing comes of it, we will go to court,” he warns.

Ms Nooraine of Inventure Academy, says the state government’s new definition appears to means that a Muslim starting a school should run it only for other Muslims. When there is already enough unrest among communities, this will only stoke the fire, in her opinion. “I want a unified India. I studied in Christian institutions all my life, went for Bible study every day and for scripture. People perceive Christianity positively because so many of us have studied in these institutions,” she points out, making a strong case for more plurality in schools “The only thing we can do is protest. May be we will get somewhere because the pressure is so high on the government. Right now, there is nothing we can do but wait” says Dr Joshua Samuel, principal, Baldwins Methodist College.

Deccan Chronicle, 24 July 2012

2 Comments

Unaided minority schools too come under RTE

Implementation, Minority Education, Right to Education

BANGALORE: Unaided minority schools in Karnataka will not enjoy automatic exemption from giving 25 per cent of the total seats, under the Right to Education Act, to students from economically and socially weaker (ESW) sections without charging any fee.

In a contentious move on Friday, the State government decided that unaided minority schools in the State will have to offer 75 per cent of the total available seats to students from their respective communities to avail exemption from compulsorily giving 25 per cent seats to students from ESW sections under the RTE Act.

The unaided minority institutions not offering 75 per cent of the seats to children from their respective communities will, therefore, have to set aside 25 per cent of the seats for free education to students from ESW sections.

Briefing the media on a decision taken in this regard at a meeting of the State Cabinet during the day, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri said the Supreme Court had defined that ‘minority institutions’ should have a “handful” or “sprinkling” of non-minority students, while the remaining students should belong to minority categories concerned.

The minister said since the apex court had not indicated any percentage of enrollment for minority communities in unaided minority institutions, it was left to the State governments to define this. Kageri also indicated that this new definition will be applicable from next year. “Admission processes have already been completed. It would be difficult to enforce it (the decision) this year,” he said.

However, the decision is bo¬u¬nd to be challenged by unaided minority schools on the ground that the April 12, 2012 judgment of the apex co¬u¬rt had categorically exempted th¬em from the RTE Act’s purview. The judgment had held that the Fundamental Rights enjoyed by minority institutions under Article 30 (1) of the Constitution were absolute, and not subject to any reasonable restrictions. The apex court judgment stated that “Sections 12(1) (C) and 18 (3) (of the RTE Act) infringes fundamental freedom guaranteed to unaided minority schools under Article 31(1) (of the Constitution) and, consequently ……. the said 2009 (RTE) Act shall not apply to such schools”.

Why 75%?

Kageri did not explain the logic behind fixing the 75 per cent ceiling for the exemption. Official said that it would have been better if it was 50 per cent, the ceiling apparently followed in Tamil Nadu for many years.

But, the Supreme Court judgment has not specified that in a minority school, the student population should be a minimum of 75 per cent or any other percentage.

The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004, defined those who can run minority institutions. But it is silent on the composition of the student population in these institutions.

In the year 2000, the State government issued a circular stating the management of a minority school should predominantly consist of minorities. In 2006, an amendment to the circular was issued, saying that the reservation for minority students in minority institutions should be proportional to the population of the concerned minority community in area where the institution operates.

After the Supreme Court ruled that RTE should be implemented from this year onwards, the state education department had favoured a 50 per cent quota for minorities to enjoy the minority institution status.

However, going by the Supreme Court’s RTE judgment, there are question marks if these stipulations would hold ground. The judgment pointed out that legal and constitutional position in this regard stood changed in the wake of an amendment to Article 15 of the Constitution in 2005 by way of the insertion of clause 15(5). The judgment concluded that the new provision provided special protection to unaided minority schools.

Following Kageri’s announcement, official sources told Deccan Herald that a government order defining the ‘minority’ for the RTE Act implementation would be issued in a couple of days. However, the order may be only applicable to new schools to be set up and not to the existing ones.

Deccan Herald, 06 July 2012

Comment
« Older Posts


  Disclaimer: The copyright of the contents of this blog remains with the original author / publisher.