‘Minority’ tag to be cleared in next Cabinet session: Kageri

The government’s recognition of unaided private schools “will be at peril” if they take a defiant stance on implementation of the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, said Kumar G. Nayak, Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education.

This comes in the wake of two federations of unaided private schools threatening to close down for a week from July 16 if the government does not provide greater clarity on issues related implementation of the legislation, especially on the definition of “minority” institutions.

‘Not above law’

Speaking at a press conference here on Tuesday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri also warned that “nobody is above the law of the land” and attempting to scuttle the Act would attract action.

Asked about the issue of norms guiding the “minority” tag to institutions, he said that there had been discussions with the Law Department on the issue and it was to be finalised. “It is likely to be passed in the next Cabinet,” he said.

Defining minority

Since minority unaided schools are exempted from providing 25 per cent reservation to children from underprivileged sections as per RTE norms, the definition of “minority” has been a bone of contention.

According to sources in the Education Department, the government is contemplating redefining a minority institution on the basis of the student composition of a school rather than composition of the board or management. It may mean that only schools which have more than 50 per cent of its students from the minority community will be recognised as minority schools.

Mr. Kageri said that he was hopeful of private school managements not going ahead with the closure plans “keeping the future of children as priority”. He and other officials of the Education Department were always open for talks, he added.

Community connect

The Minister said that the ‘Shalegagi Naavu Neevu’ programme starting on Thursday, aimed at garnering community support for school enrolment, will focus on creating awareness on the RTE.

Emphasising that there are larger promises in RTE besides 25 per cent reservation in private schools, he said the focus of the programme would be bringing the 4,000 children in Karnataka who have never been enrolled into the education stream and monitoring infrastructure and quality of education. “About 40,000 children drop out schools, which will also be addressed,” he said.

This year’s programme will include a series of evaluation processes of schools, till November 11. The programme will be flagged off on Thursday with Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda participating at a programme at Kolar.