Several city-based minority schools have received a notice from the government asking them to reveal information about admissions under the minority quota. The notice for this comes after 20 minority schools in the city received a notice recently, questioning the managements if they have been adhering to rules and regulations of the minority status.
While schools have started giving information on admissions as demanded by the notice, many were angry with the government pulling them up for no specific reason. “The notice seeks answers to questions like the type of minority (linguistic or religious), when the school got minority status, information about management members, etc.
They will soon also ask us to submit the total number of seats and how many students from the minority quota are admitted,” said Rohan Bhatt, chairperson of Childrens’ Academy Group of Schools. He added that demanding specific information from schools is too much interference.
Bhatt added, referring to the earlier notice, that at the time of seeking minority status, the government did not state any compulsion on 51% seats to be filled only by the minority students. “The criteria was that, at the time of the school’s inception and till date, the management should have majority trustees from the same minority.
Other than that, we were never told that 51% has to be filled by minority students only,” he said. While schools are being told by the government that the rule has been stated to all clearly, schools are also ready to take the government to court, if need be.
In June this year, state Minority Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse sent a notice to 20-odd minority education institutes in the city for not fulfilling the criteria of filling 51% of their seats by students from the said minorities and also stated that these schools might face stern action, including revoking their minority status.
However, schools have stated that their minority status cannot be revoked like this. “Minority institutes are safeguarded under Sections 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India and state laws. Even the law, under which we come, does not specifically mention that 51% seats have to compulsorily go to children from linguistic or religious minorities; it only states that 51% is kept aside for children from this category.
With the law in place, the government cannot take us to task because we are fulfilling all the criteria, as placed by the government,” said S C Kedia, honorary secretary of Unaided Schools’ Forum. He added that, off late, minority unaided institutes have been targeted by the government for no specific reason, calling it “unfair”.
While schools are worried about the new diktat, many said that finding students with the same minority background can become difficult sometimes. “A huge chunk of the Catholic community has migrated from south Mumbai to the western suburbs and beyond.
It’s not our fault that all the seats are not getting filled, because we are accepting admissions of all who apply under the minority quota. Since we can’t leave seats vacant, we end up converting these seats into the open category so that more students can attend school,” said the principal of a Catholic school in south Mumbai. The principal added that most Catholic schools face this problem.