'Minority schools on govt land need to admit poor'

All institutes have to reserve seats for EWS children

Minority schools built on public lands in Delhi, which have been enjoying relief from 25 per cent reservation for the poor students under the Right to Education Act, will now have to reserve 20 per cent seats for the poor students across classes as per the recent affidavit filed by the government in the High Court.

All private schools on public land will have to abide by the rule of reserving 20 per cent seats for the poor irrespective of whether they fall under the ambit of the Right to Education Act or not, states the Directorate of Education’s affidavit filed on Monday.

Any school situated on public land allotted by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on concessional rates were given the land on the condition that it will admit at least 20 per cent children belonging to the weaker sections.

According to DoE’s website there are approximately 400 schools running on public lands out of which 50 are minority schools.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal said after the introduction of RTE Act, schools on public lands thought they were exempted from the 20 per cent reservation under the land clause. A PIL was filed in the High Court in 2011 regarding the issue.

Free seats

“Since minority schools were removed from the RTE ambit, they were under the impression that they do not have to reserve any seats for the poor. However, through its affidavit, DoE has officially declared that they will have to give free seats as per the land clause,” said Khagesh Jha, advocate and RTE campaigner.

Jha added that DoE did not have any mechanism to check if private schools were following this rule earlier which led to violation of this rule under the Delhi Schools Education Act.

The affidavit was submitted in response to a petition which challenged a notification dated January 7, 2011 regarding  Delhi School Education (free seats for students belonging to Economically Sections and Disadvantaged Group) Order issued by the DoE.

According to the affidavit, if the entry-level class of a school on government land has 25 per cent students from economically weaker section of the total children admitted, the 20 per cent reservation as per the land clause need not be followed.

“But class/section in which no such students are admitted in schools which have been allotted land by government agencies shall have to offer 20 per cent of the admissions to children belonging to EWS,” said DoE in its affidavit.

This implies that private and non-minority schools on government lands which have reserved 25 per cent for Economic Weaker Sections  for entry-level classes will also have to admit 20 per cent poor students for admissions done from class 2 onwards.

On approaching DoE, an official said that to ensure implementation of this policy decision, “modification of the notification (for 20 per cent free ship) is under process.”

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