Madrassas, Vedic pathshalas and educational institutions primarily imparting religious instructions will be exempted from the Right To Education (RTE) Act as minority institutions. This was made clear in a recent amendment in the RTE Act.
Hundreds of schools, which might be affiliated to religious or linguistic minority trusts but imparting formal education, will have to follow the Act.
Previously, unaided minority schools were exempted from the principal RTE Act of 2009 by an SC judgment that upheld the constitutional validity of the Act. However, the President of India has given assent to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2012 on June 19, 2012. The Act has been published in the Official Gazette (The Gazette of India) and will come into force soon after a central government notification.
Sanjay Deshmukh, currently holding additional charge as the special project director of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), said, “The introduction of this amendment will revolutionise the RTE Act. So far, a majority of the big schools that offer quality education had closed their doors to the Act, taking shelter under the ‘unaided, minority’ tag. But now, only those schools issuing certificates from the church or the mosque and other such religious institutions will be exempted from the Act.”
He added that the rest of the schools, even if they are religious or linguistic minorities, will have to follow the Act as they are affiliated to a formal board of education like the state board, central board, private boards like ICSE or the international board. “Students of such schools are getting elementary education and hence will have to toe the RTE line. Now, the dream of a poor student studying in a big school will actually be realised. Once the notification arrives, we will send circulars to schools,” he said.
Jayant Jain, president of the Forum for Fairness in Education, said, “Schools were so far unfairly seeking cover under the minority tag. One school even went to the extent of acquiring a minority certificate from the national commission. In reality, these schools have less than 50% minority students. This amendment will ensure that such schools will be penalised if they do not follow the Act.”