Though the Supreme Court decision came on Tuesday, the state government has already exempted aided minority schools from filling up 25% seats in the entry level classes this year.
No directive has been issued by the school education and sports department for these schools pertaining to admission of socially and economically backward children, as mandated under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, while non-minority institutions have been asked to give 25% seats to the poor.
The message for aided and unaided non-minority institutions is so clear that the state also launched an online central admission process for Mumbai schools. On the other hand, none of the religious or linguistic minority institution conducted admission under the quota due to want of a government resolution.
"We kept 25% seats aside and were waiting for the government's circular. The SC order has made things clearer," said Fr Jude Fernadise, principal of St Stanislaus School in Bandra, an aided minority institution. He also claimed that minority schools always admit a large number of poor, share of which exceeds 25%, and, hence, RTE quota shouldn't be applicable to them.
Over 21,600 schools in the state are aided institutions. Nearly 80% of them have got a religious or linguistic minority tag with many of them rushing for it after the Act came into effect. While unaided minority schools are already exempted from admitting students under the quota, many parents were seeking admission in aided minority schools, which are much in demand.
Several parents are doing the rounds of these schools but failing to get a satisfactory answer. Suresh Nair, principal of Vivek Vidyalaya at Goregaon, also a minority school whereparents gathered on Monday, said, "We have been told aided minority schools are also exempted from the quota. But parents and activists are unaware about it. We are asking them to consult the department for clarification."
It's the parents who are in a soup now. "I will go for online admission now as I don't know if my child will get admission in any Gujarati minority school, which was our first preference because it's aided and has more facilities," said a parent.
Interestingly, there is no clarification from the department as to why aided minority schools have been kept out of the RTE ambit. A principal from a non-minority school said, "The state government has clearly favoured minority schools, which are run by education barons."
While school education minister Rajendra Darda was unavailable for comment, education secretary Ashwini Bhide didn't respond to calls.
Lukewarm response to RTE admission in unaided schools
BMC's online process for admission to unaided non-minority schools, for which 8,234 seats were made available, has got a lukewarm response from poor parents with more than 20% seats remaining vacant even after the deadline for the first round, which ended on Monday, was extended. Experts say most parents seek admission in aided schools, which are not part of the online process