Linguistic minority: Govt may face challenges

In the current draft rules notified in March 2019, the government has proposed an appellate authority headed by the principal secretary (primary and secondary education) to challenge decisions made by the department. This was a long-pending demand. DH Fil

The state government’s move to end ambiguity in according recognition to schools claiming to belong to linguistic minority communities could instead lead to a showdown with educational institutions.

Any school seeking to be recognised as a "linguistic minority" institution should have at least 25% of the total number of students belonging to the linguistic minority community, the government has proposed in its draft rules governing the process of recognition. The draft rules are due to be placed before the Cabinet for approval.  

The state government has notified ten languages as linguistic minority in Karnataka - Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Tulu, Lamani, Hindi, Konkani and Gujarati.

The draft rules lay down the procedure schools need to follow while applying for the minority status.

Thus far, the process of recognising schools as "linguistic minority" was fraught with confusion, resulting in educational institutions crying foul against officials taking undue advantage of the ambiguities.

Private schools following the Karnataka state syllabus were expected to apply with the Directorate of Urdu and Other Minority Education of the Department of Public Instruction. Schools affiliated to the CBSE and CISCE were directed to the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.

"But the problem is that the Commission acknowledges only six religious minority communities and expects states to deal with requests for linguistic minority status," the founder of a popular school brand said, requesting anonymity. "The draft rules are a reprieve, but the 25% clause will be challenged."

JD(S) MLC Puttanna has filed his objection to the 25% clause. "When the National Commission doesn’t differentiate between religious and linguistic minority, why insist on a percentage?” he has argued.

Former primary and secondary education minister Tanveer Sait, during whose tenure the attempts for streamlining the recognition process began, justified the 25% clause.

"How else will they serve their community,” he asked. “There should be some benchmark. Otherwise, schools will start seeking minority status just to escape the Right to Education (RTE) Act and to claim other benefits that minority institutions enjoy,” he said.

In 2018, the government withdrew similar draft rules that stated that a minority educational institution needed to have 25% students from "any" religious or linguistic minority community.

In the current draft rules, notified in March 2019, the government has proposed an appellate authority headed by the principal secretary (primary and secondary education) to challenge decisions made by the department. This was a long-pending demand.

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