Express News Service

NEW DELHI: India’s apex child rights body in its report on minority education has said that students enrolled in unrecognised madrasas, Vedic schools, and gumpas (Buddhist places of learning) should be treated as out of school kids. 

The report also underlined that majority of the minority institutions are violating guidelines.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), in its 116-page report, prepared over the last five years has also stressed that the minority institutions are not serving the purpose they are meant for while enjoying the benefits under the law.

The report titled “Impact of Exemption under Article 15(5) w.r.t. Article 21a of the Constitution of India on the education of children of minority communities” has now been submitted to the Union education ministry.

Through Article 21a, the Constitution provides for the right to education to children between 6-14 years while Article 30 gives rights to minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. 

There are nearly 18,000 minority schools in India, the largest –over 12,000– of which are madrasas. 

“Based on several of the findings in the report, our view is that Article 21A should prevail over the later for the benefit of children,” NCPCR Priyank Kanoongo told The New Indian Express.

The report says that across the communities, 62.50% of the student population belongs to the non-minority community, while 37.50% belongs to the minority communities.

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Muslim community schools (20.29%) have the lowest percentages of non-minority population among their minority schools while the Christian community schools have 74.01% of the student population belonging to the non-Christian community.

There are about 1.1 crore children in unrecognised madrasas, the Commission has estimated.

Based on the findings, it has suggested mapping of all unrecognised institutions during the survey to identify out-of-school children and specific guidelines regarding the nature and number of minority institutes in a state.

The body has also recommended notification of guidelines regarding composition in minority institutes.

Importantly, as per the data analysed, schools — mainly run by Christian institutions — were found to be admitting non-minority students to a large extent.

In Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh and Uttarakhand, for instance, the percentage of students from the non-minority communities goes up to more than 80%.

As per the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, the state government can prescribe percentage of the minority community to be admitted in a minority educational institution taking into account the population and educational needs of the area in which the institution is located.

However, in the absence of clear guidelines from states and despite the large presence of minority students in school-going age groups, minority schools are catering to less than 8% of the minority children population, the report says.

“Hence, 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,” it says.

It has also been suggested that the minority cells in NCERT and SCERTS should be activated to ensure the fundamental right to elementary education of minority communities.