Context:

After conducting a nationwide assessment of minority schools, the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has recommended to the government to bring all such schools, including madarasas, under the purview of Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Education, Issues related to Minorities, Government Policies and Interventions), GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Fundamental Rights)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
  2. The functions of NCPCR
  3. About the NCPCR Survey on Minority Institutions and RTE
  4. Article 30
  5. How Article 30 can be used to bypass RTE?
  6. Way Forwards from the NCPCR report

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is an Indian Statutory Body established by an Act of Parliament, the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • The Commission works under the aegis of Ministry of Women and Child Development, GoI.
  • The Commission is mandated under section 13 of CPCR Act, 2005 “to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
  • As defined by the commission, child includes person up to the age of 18 years.
  • Also, NCPCR cannot enquire into any matter which is pending before a State Commission or any other Commission duly constituted.
  • The commission consist of the following members:
    • A chairperson who, is a person of eminence and has done a outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children; and
    • Six members, out of which at least two are woman, from the following fields, is appointed by the Central Government from amongst person of eminence, ability, integrity, standing and experience in:
      • Education,
      • Child health, care, welfare or child development,
      • Juvenile justice or care of neglected or marginalized children or children with disabilities,
      • Elimination of child labour or children in distress
      • Child psychology or sociology
      • Laws relating to children

The functions of NCPCR

  • Examine and review the safeguards provided by or under any law for the time being in force for the protection of child rights and recommend measures
  • Present to the Central Government –  reports upon working of those safeguards
  • Inquire into violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in such cases
  • Examine all factors that inhibit the enjoyment of rights of children affected by terrorism, communal violence, riots etc., and recommend appropriate remedial measures
  • Look into the matters relating to the children in need of special care and protection including children in distress, marginalized and disadvantaged children
  • Study treaties and other international instruments and undertake periodical review of existing policies, programmes and other activities on child rights and make recommendations
  • Undertake and promote research in the field of child rights
  • Spread child rights literacy among various section of society and promote awareness
  • Inspect or cause to be inspected any juveniles custodial home, or any other place of residence or institution meant for children
  • Inquire into complaints and take suo motu notice of matter relating to:
    • Deprivation and violation of child rights;
    • Non implementation of laws providing for protection and development of children;
    • Noncompliance of policy decisions, guidelines or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships to and ensuring welfare of the children and provide relief to such children;
    • Or take up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities.
  • Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of Child Rights
  • Undertake formal investigation where concern has been expressed either by children themselves or by concerned person on their behalf
  • Promote the incorporation of child rights into the school curriculum, training of teachers or personnel dealing with children

About the NCPCR Survey on Minority Institutions and RTE

  • The report titled “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Minority Communities” – highlights the disproportionate number of minority institutions or dominance of non-minority category in Minority institutions.
  • The aim was to assess how the 93rd Amendment to Indian Constitution, which exempts minority institutions from otherwise mandatory provisions of the Right to Education, affected children belonging to minority communities.

Important Pointers

  • Overall, 62.5% of the students in these schools belonged to non-minority communities. Only 8.76% of the students in minority schools belong to socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • In West Bengal, even though more than 90% of the minority population is of Muslims and only over 2% are Christians- there are 114 Christian minority schools and only two schools with Muslim minority status.
  • Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, though the Christian population is less than 1% there are 197 Christian minority schools in the state.
  • It found that the largest number of out-of-school children – at 1.1 crore – belonged to the Muslim community.
  • According to the report, there are three kinds of madrasas in the country:
    • Recognised Madrasas: These are registered and impart both religious as well as secular education;
    • Unrecognised Madrasas: These have been found deficient for registration by state governments as secular education is not imparted.
    • Unmapped Madrasas: These have never applied for registration.

Article 30

  • Under Article 30 clause (1), minorities (linguistic or religious) have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  • The State cannot impose any restrictions on the right of the minorities except for making regulations, which promote excellence in education.
  • However, Minority institutions cannot ignore the regulations recommended by the state. Further, the Supreme Court in the TMA Pai Foundation case, 2002 said that Article 30(1) was neither absolute nor above the law.
  • Both Articles 29 and 30 are available to Indian Citizens only.
  • Article 29 is a general protection available to all sections of the population, whereas, Article 30 is protection available only to the linguistic or religious minorities.

Amendment to Article 30

  • According to Article 30 (1A), in case a minority’s property is acquired by the State, it shall be provided adequate compensation for the same, and the amount fixed by law should be such that it would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under cause (1).
  • The State cannot discriminate while providing aid to such institutions.
  • This provision was added by the 44th Amendment Act, 1978 to protect the right of minorities in this regard and deleted the Fundamental Right to property under Article 31.

How to identify minority status?

  • The term minority has not been defined by the Constitution.
  • However, in a Presidential reference the judiciary has established parameters to determine the minority status.
  • At union level, “minority” means those groups, which have less than 50% population at all India level.
  • At state level, “minority” means groups forming less than 50% population within the state.

SC Judgment: Malankara Syrian Catholic College case, 2007

  • The right conferred on minorities under Article 30 is only to ensure quality with the majority and not intended to place the minorities in a more advantageous position compared to the majority.
  • The general laws of the land relating to national interest, national security, social welfare etc., are applicable equally to both minority and majority institutions.
  • The right to establish and administer educational institutions is not absolute.
  • It does not include the right to maladminister and there can be regulatory measures for ensuring educational character and standards.
  • Extension of aid by the state, does not alter the nature and character of the minority educational institutions.

How Article 30 can be used to bypass RTE?

  • In order to implement Right to Education under Article 21A the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 was passed. This act mandates 25% reservation for disadvantaged sections of the society where disadvantaged groups include:
    1. SCs and STs
    2. Socially Backward Class
    3. Differently abled.
  • However, Minority schools are outside the purview of the RTE Act.
  • Further, in 2014, the Supreme Court in Pramati judgment made the whole RTE Act inapplicable to minority schools.
  • The lack of applicability of RTE to minority institutions is serious as many schools and institutions have registered as minority institutions, simply because they don’t have to implement RTE (according to the NCPCR survey).

Way Forwards from the NCPCR report

  • The government should bring all such schools, including madrasas, under the purview of the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.
  • The NCPCR also backed reservation for students from minority communities in such schools after its survey found a large proportion of non-minority students studying there.
  • There is a need to lay down specific guidelines regarding the minimum percentage of students from the minority community to be admitted to the institution.
  • There is a need to review the exemption made under RTE with respect to minority institutions.

-Source: Indian Express

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