The Hindu reports today that Karnataka state’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has written to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) seeking withdrawal of affiliation to six schools run by the National Public School Group in Bengaluru and Mysuru.
Those facing trouble are four National Public Schools in Bengaluru (Rajajinagar, Indiranagar, Koramangala, HSR Layout), one in Mysuru and the National Academy for Learning located in Basaveshwara Nagar, Bengaluru.
So, why is the DPI gunning for these schools? It alleges that the management of these schools are ‘indulging in fraudulent means in order to circumvent the provisions of the RTE Act and are involved in criminal activities.’
The Right to Education (RTE) Act mandates that non-minority schools allot 25 percent of their total seats to children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups for free. Both privately run and government-aided minority schools do not come under the ambit of the RTE act but all private non-minority ones do.
Many education policy experts and legal commentators have frequently pointed out the innate sectarianism of the RTE act. Many elite schools, mostly convent schools or the ones run by Christian and Muslim minorities which are exempted from the RTE provisions usually get to maintain the high standards of education, while those run by, say Hindus, are weighed down this law.
To escape this act and stay competitive vis-a-vis minority institutions, schools run by, say, linguistic minorities (usually Hindus) have proliferated since the act was passed in 2010. Since court judgments have held minorities to be of two kinds - religious and linguistic - most have taken the ‘linguistic minority’ route.
The NPS group, for instance, is a registered Malayalee minority institution in Bangalore.
This is what the DPI is now terming as ‘criminal activity.’
There wouldn’t be a need for the NPS or others to take this so-called ‘criminal route’ at all if the majority enjoyed equal protection of laws in education as the minorities do.
Sonia Gandhi’s RTE act perpetuates the discriminatory regime in education and is a throwback to Indira Gandhi’s licence-permit-quota raj which turned countless innocuous professions into dens of illegality.
It is the flawed law that is ‘criminal’, not those circumventing it.
However, the NDA government in Delhi doesn’t seem bothered and hasn’t moved an inch since 2014 to repeal such flawed laws and defuse the sectarian minefields laid by the UPA in the education sector.