Illustration: The Wire

New Delhi: The largest number of children out of school, 1.1 crore, belong to the Muslim community, and non-minority students make over 60% of those enrolled in minority schools across the country, the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights has found.

In Christian missionary schools, the number of non-minority students is as much as 74%. Noting that “minority schools are catering to less than 8% of the minority children population,” the panel has recommended reservation for students of minority communities in minority schools in the light of this.

In a report on the NCPCR’s ‘Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Minority Communities’ study, Indian Express has highlighted the panel’s recommendation that minority schools be brought under the ambit of the Right to Education Act and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.

Minority institutions are exempted from the mandatory provisions of the Right to Education Act and the report sought to assess the impact of this exemption on students.

“This exemption needs to be reviewed,” NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo told the newspaper, noting the necessity for these institutions to come under the banner of the Right to Education Act and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

The report adds that there has been a definite surge in the number of schools rushing to secure a Minority Status Certificate after the 93rd Amendment in 2006, that exempted minority schools from the mandatory RTE Act provisions.

The report also notes that fewer than 9% of the students in minority schools are from social and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, primarily thanks to the lack of imperative to admit them under the RTE Act.

The Indian Express report notes that “while Christians comprise 11.54% of India’s minority population, they run 71.96% schools, and Muslims with 69.18% minority population run 22.75% of the schools.”

However, these figures do not reflect equal distribution of schools. The report cites how in West Bengal, 92.47% of the minority population is of Muslims and 2.47% are Christians, but there are 114 Christian minority schools and only two schools with Muslim minority status.

Comparatively, Sikhs comprise 9.78% of the minority population and run 1.54% schools, Buddhists with 3.83% minority population run 0.48% schools, and Jains with 1.9% minority population run 1.56% of schools.

The NCPCR report also tackled the question of registered madrasas, their syllabi and their lack of teachers training programmes.

This story first appeared on thewire.in