The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted a Bill seeking to earmark 7.5% of seats on a “preferential basis” for students from State government schools in admissions to undergraduate courses in engineering, agriculture, veterinary, fisheries, law and other professional programmes offered by universities and private, government-aided and government colleges in the State.
The beneficiaries of the quota would be required to have studied from Classes VI to XII in State government schools.
The legislation, introduced in the House by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, stated that the Tamil Nadu government decided to take affirmative action with the aim of bringing about “real equality” between students who studied in government schools and those who studied in private schools.
The existence of “ de facto inequalities” between students of government schools and those who studied in private schools was evident from the report submitted by the Justice D. Murugesan Commission, it said.
“Though education is important to all students to enrich their knowledge and to help them lead a reasonable and meaningful life, the students from government schools, forming a distinct class, require more attention from the State for preferential treatment in higher education when compared to the students of private schools, who are provided a better environment and a different and conducive atmosphere for pursuing their education,” the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill said.
Considering the socio-economic condition, the disadvantage suffered and the past enrolment of government school students, the Commission has recommended that no less than 10% of seats in engineering, agriculture, veterinary, fisheries, law and other professional courses be set apart to provide preference in admissions to government school students “without affecting the rule of reservation in force in the State”.
The Justice D. Murugesan Commission was constituted to assess and analyse the reasons for the lower number of government school students getting admission into engineering, agriculture, fisheries, veterinary and law courses at universities, self-financing colleges and government colleges, and to recommend remedial measures to ensure due representation of government school students.
When Mr. Stalin sought the permission of the House to move the Bill, all parties, including the principal Opposition party, the AIADMK, supported the legislation. Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami spoke in support of the Bill. The Speaker said the Bill was being moved with the unanimous support of the House.
Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudi said the reservation for government school students would not be applicable to deemed universities.
The Bill was passed unanimously. The AIADMK members were not in the House when the Bill was adopted, as they had staged a walkout over another issue.