Entrance tests for mission school admissions: confusion over RTE implementation

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IMPHAL, January 23: There is a growing apprehension amongst the people of the state on whether the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 is being properly implemented in the state. The Act was passed by the Parliament in the year 2009 with the vision of providing free and compulsory education to every child between the age of 6 and 14 of the country. It came into being the next year from April 1, 2010 after the then Indian President gave assent to it on August 26, 2009.

Several provisions of the Act provide that every child should be entitled to education. One of the provisions says, “Education is a process which engages many different actors. These actors influence the Right to Education. It provides for the right (entitlement) of Children to free and compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school”.

But in the face of several demands by organizations and students bodies for doing away with entrance tests in various private and missionary schools in the state, it is critical for the concerned authority which is the Education Department in this case to clarify over the mater of whether the RTE is applicable to all the schools of the state and if not, then which schools should come under it`s purview.

While some schools are preparing to hold entrance admission tests for students, certain schools have said there will be no school admission test being conducted. The demand for seats in mission and private schools on the other hand, has made guardians to demand that school admissions be done through the lottery system. There is every likelihood that the said face-off between guardians and student organizations on one hand and private or and mission schools on the other can snowball into a major crisis.

On April 12, 2012 the Supreme Court of India had passed a judgement which had said that the act is not applicable in “Minority un-aided private Schools”.

The  judgement had said said, “Accordingly, we hold that the Right to Children to free and compulsory Education Act, 2009 is constitutionally valid and shall apply to the following: a school established, owned or controlled by the appropriate government or a local authority; an aided school including aided minority school(s) receiving aid or grants to meet whole or part of its expenses from the appropriate government or local authority; a school belonging to specified category and an unaided non-minority school not receiving any kind of aid or grants to meet its expenses from the appropriate government or the local authority. However the said 2009 Act and in particular Sections 12 (1) (c) and 18 (3) infringes the fundamental freedom guaranteed to unaided minority schools under Article 30 (1) and consequently, applying the RMD Chamrbaugwalla vs Union of India (1957 SCR930) principle of severability, the said 2009 Act shall not apply to such schools”.

In the backdrop of this, mission schools in Manipur technically claim that they are `minority educational institutions` and are unaided by Government. But many question the truth of such a claim considering that such schools are not aimed to educate children of minority groups but take in children from the general class, not to mention from the elite section of the state. 

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