By Ritika Chopra in New Delhi
Sibal wants Muslim kids in pvt schools under EWS
HRD MINISTER Kapil Sibal seems to have donned the role of a rescuer.
A day after he intervened and, apparently, convinced the Delhi Police to go the extra mile to ensure the safety of youngsters from the North- Eastern states, he urged Delhi education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely to improve the representation of Muslim children in private schools of Delhi.
Following the meeting on Thursday, the Delhi government, according to sources, has agreed to change its definition of disadvantaged group to include minorities.
This would allow minorities, including Muslims, to seek admission to private schools under the economically weaker section or EWS quota according to the Right to Education ( RTE) Act.
“ We are definitely considering the inclusion of minorities in our definition of disadvantaged group. In fact, this has been on our mind for a while and the chief minister ( Sheila Dikshit) recently chaired a meeting on improving the access to education for minorities in the Capital,” Lovely said.
“ We are currently checking the legal position on this. If all goes as planned then this change will be part of our rules under the RTE Act which should be released in the two to three weeks. The biggest beneficiaries from the inclusion of minorities should be the Muslim community as they have a sizeable population in the city,” he added.
The issue of under representation of Muslim children in the Capital’s unaided schools was raised in the Rajya Sabha on March 19. According to MPs, many private schools had barely admitted Muslim children to nursery classes this year.
Following the uproar, National Commission for Minorities chief Wajahat Habibullah, who was present at the Thursday meeting, had written to Sibal on the issue.
“ The ( HRD) minister is from Delhi and he felt that he can help as far as Muslim children here are concerned. So he called for a meeting with the Delhi education minister and made suggestions,” a senior HRD ministry official said.
Sibal’s concern could also be traced to his political constituency — Chandni Chowk — which has a significant Muslim population.
“ The RTE Act has an inclusive view of education. He felt that making Muslims eligible for EWS reservation will give them a level playing field,” the official added.
Sources say the HRD minister also suggested that the Delhi government should allow minority foundations to help run government schools in areas where Muslims are in majority.
Schools in the Capital had introduced the EWS quota in 2010. The Act allows the states to frame their own definition of the economically weaker section. In Delhi, for instance, it has been defined in purely economical terms. A child whose parents have a total annual income of less than ` 1 lakh per annum from all sources and has been staying in Delhi for the last three years can seek admission under EWS quota.
According to sources in the Delhi government, if minorities are included in the new definition of EWS, then there could be no income cap on them to avail the benefits.
Schools are wary of such as change.
“ This reservation should be meant for the poor irrespective of their caste and religion and the Delhi government’s rules ensure just that. We have admitted many Muslim children in the EWS category this year. I do not support a change in the definition,” Usha Ram, principal, Laxman Public School, Hauz Khas, said.
“ This is purely the government’s decision. But it should be carefully dealt with and they should ensure that this doesn’t create angst among other backward sections as the admission issue is an extremely sensitive subject,” Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road, said.
THE EWS QUOTA DEMYSTIFIED
How many seats do private schools have to reserve for EWS, according to RTE Act? Unaided schools should admit children ( at the entry- level) to the extent of at least 25 per cent of the total strength of that class under EWS quota Q. Who fall under EWS and disadvantaged groups? A child belonging to the economically weaker section ( EWS) has to defined by the state governments and has to be based on the minimum income of parents/ guardians.
In Delhi, a child whose parents have a total annual income of less than ` 1 lakh per annum and has been staying in Delhi for the past three years can seek admission under EWS quota.
A child from a disadvantaged group means those from SC/ ST and other socially and educationally backward categories based on cultural, economical, social, geographical, linguistic, gender or other categories that state governments can separately notify