RTE continues to wreak havoc on the education sector of Bharat. While it is common knowledge that our public schools, especially State Government run schools, are in bad shape, the private sector has been playing a crucial role in providing better quality, well-rounded education to lakhs of children. But instead of forcing Government schools to improve, RTE seems hell bent on destroying the private school capacity built up over decades. Its latest victim – top-notch NPS (National Public School) chain of schools in Karnataka.
Only one provider in the education field is benefiting from RTE – the minority run schools, which by & large means the 30,000 odd Christian missionary run schools. They are watching gleefully from the sidelines while their competitors are gradually strangulated, leaving the field clear for them to become the de-facto education czars of this nation & further their missionary agenda.
What is the NPS case?
First FIR filed by NCMEI in Jan
In January 2016, the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI – a quasi-judicial body created by Sonia Gandhi led UPA in 2004 whose members have to be non-Hindus, and which controls grant of minority certificates to educational institutions) had directed the secretary of the commission to file an FIR against KP Gopalakrishna, founder-chairman of the National Public School (NPS) institutions, for forging the signature of the commission authorities and using seal of the commission to create fake minority certificate. NPS has claimed a Malayalee linguistic minority status as its founder KP Gopalakrishna is from Kerala.
The order copy read: “A complaint dated 14.09.2015 has been received from P Kalidasa Reddy intimating that National Public School Indira Nagar, Bangalore which is run by the National Educational Trust has submitted fake minority status certificate issued by NCMEI to state government to get exemption from RTE provisions, though their claim for linguistic minority was rejected by NCMEI.”
New Delhi police had then forwarded the entire case to the Bengaluru police for further action as the school comes under the purview of city police. Meanwhile, based on directions by the commissioner for public instructions, a criminal case was filed against NPS in Mysuru.
More FIRs filed by DPI Karnataka in June, Complaint sent to CBSE
In July 2016, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), Karnataka had issued orders to file FIRs against all branches of NPS for faking minority status documents from the NCMEI. These included five schools in Bengaluru and one in Mysuru. The DPI also sent a complaint to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to withdraw affiliation to the NPS schools.
On Tuesday, CBSE withdrew its affiliation to the National Public School and its branches for allegedly forging documents to claim the status of a ‘minority’ educational institution. The withdrawal of affiliation would mean that students from this institution cannot register for the 10th standard and 12th standard board exams from the 2017-18 academic year onwards. The CBSE has asked the six schools not to run Classes 9 and 11 from the 2017-18 academic year. This means students in Classes 8 and 10 will have to join other schools next year.
Started in 1982, the National Education Trust also runs the NPS brand of schools in Chennai and Singapore. NPS founder KP Gopalkrishna called it a big conspiracy and said the CBSE has not followed the due procedure. “Neither a showcause notice was issued, nor an explanation sought. We were kept in the dark. There’s a big conspiracy. I can’t name who but they have given it a religious colour,” Gopalkrishna told Economic Times.
“The NPS group has not officially received any formal intimation or information from the CBSE with regard to withdrawing affiliation at present. We strongly refute the allegations of forgery of documents and clarify that RTE students have been admitted for the past three academic years.
We are seeking legal counsel to address the issue, and all processes are underway. The NPS group of institutions is committed to safeguarding the interests of all our students and no effort will be spared to set the record straight,” he added.
This article from Oct, 2015 corroborates KP Gopalkrishna’s statement that NPS has been admitting students under RTE as it’s linguistic minority status was not confirmed.
Why are schools hankering after religious/linguistic minority status?
The sectarian laws introduced in the education sector by UPA are responsible for skewing the field such that all private education providers now prefer the tag of ‘minority’ – for a Hindu run school, this means trying to get the tag of ‘linguistic minority’. Here’s a primer on the background of the sectarian RTE law provided by @realitycheckind –
“The failure of the socialist state to provision education led to the state taking from private effort. Next this was challenged at each step as minority runs schools repelled each of these efforts that Hindu run schools could not. In early 2000’s a total of 21 judges of the Supreme Court in marathon deliberations over 3 years in TMA Pai series finally ruled that minorities have same protections as Hindus and are not on a higher pedestal.
With this everyone thought the matter would rest. The Congress government however immediately upon getting elected in 2004 struck back with a vengeance and passed the 93rd Constitutional Amendment which obliterated the judicial consensus and restored the anti-Hindu tilt.
The 93rd Amendment then enabled the innocuously named “Right to Education Act” which imposes toxic burdens and loss of autonomy for Hindu-run schools while exempting in-toto Christian and other minority run schools. I have written about this extensively in this article.
The current situation in India is split along minority/Hindu and aided/private axis as follows.
- If you are a private unaided Hindu-run school – you need to follow RTE rules and need NOC (a No Objection Certificate – a uniquely Indian license) and other establishment rules
- If you are an aided Hindu-run school – you need all of the above and you need to cede management control to school management committee. Essentially a shell.
- If you are minority unaided school – you have full autonomy and the RTE does not apply to you. The NOC process is extraordinary because you can approach NCMEI that Hindus cannot.
- If you are a minority aided school – you still have full autonomy except some very basic service conditions for teachers.”
To escape the RTE imposed burdens that basically leave a school at the mercy of the Government & education babus (a variant of the license-permit raj unleashed by Indira Gandhi), Hindu-run schools have only option – to get the linguistic minority tag. Every school wants to get the minority tag – many would be surprised to know that the Vibgyor chain of 21 schools is a Parsi minority school.
OK, so who gives the Linguistic Minority Certificate? Is it NCMEI?
No, NCMEI’s authority does not extend to educational institutions established by linguistic minorities. Granting linguistic minority status seems to be within the ambit of the respective State Government, and there appear to be two fundamental criteria for this – one, the majority of members on its board or trust must belong to the linguistic minority community, and two, it must state somewhere in its bylaws or trust deed that it has been established for the benefit of the minority community.
Also, many state Governments insist on a minimum % of students from the linguistic minority for the school to claim this status – for eg. Karnataka cabinet had ruled in 2012 that for a school to be considered a minority, 75% of its students had to belong to that linguistic or religious minority.
But there is a grey area here – schools affiliated to Central Boards like CBSE and ICSE claim that their minority status falls under the ambit of central bodies – i.e NCMEI & NCLM (National Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities). NCLM is a toothless body established under Article 350B of the Constitution – it can only review safeguards for the protection of linguistic minority rights. Does this explain why NPS was approaching NCMEI (which in turns appears to rely on NCLM for linguistic minority determination) for a minority certificate?
Private Schools are blood suckers, why should we care?
It is common for most urban Hindus to lament the rising cost of school education. While there are many sides to the debate, one thing is certain – everyone acknowledges that privately run schools provide far better education than their Government counterparts, notwithstanding some exceptions like Centrally run Kendriya Vidyalayas or Navodaya Vidyalayas. And it is not only top-notch elite schools like NPS, Bengaluru who are trying to beat the RTE trap.
In February, the National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), an alliance of budget private schools (BPS) from across the country (over 36,400 schools from 20 states catering to ~ 1 crore children) held a demonstration at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi to protest RTE driven school closure, and demanding greater autonomy for Budget Private Schools. They appealed the HRD ministry to either fix RTE or repeal it altogether while formulating the new National Education Policy (NEP). As per NISA, around 20,000 schools had either closed or were facing threat of closure due to RTE as of data gathered till 18 March 2014.
NISA says, “The Right to Education (RTE) Act has failed in dealing with private unaided schools. Rather than going for collaboration with private schools, the government is taking arrogant measure which will result in the shutting down of such schools. This is the observation made by most of those who run such private schools which offers education to weaker and marginalized sections of the community.”
And while the social objective of RTE – to provide free education for disadvantaged students through the 25% free quota sounds good on the surface, this quota has spawned its own corruption racket – fake income certificates. Moreover, in theory State Governments are supposed to reimburse schools for the 25% quota students, but in reality the schools are made to run around for years to get this reimbursement – in June, The Independent English Schools’ Association (IESA) of Maharashtra had taken the decision to not reopen 16000 schools to pressurise the government to release the funds (for fees) which have been delayed for more than three years now.
So everyone is affected by RTE – poor as well as affluent, urban Hindus. If we don’t stop the gradual decimation of our private school sector, the only option left one day will be to send our children to missionary schools where they are indoctrinated by the likes of Principal Vijay Kumar Williams of Mount Carmel school, New Delhi who can be heard here telling students during morning assmebly that the Big Bang theory is ‘silly’ and that Lord Juesus Christ created us all; that we have to choose whether to go to heaven by accepting Jesus Christ as our savior, or suffer eternal damnation after death.
Missionary schools want RTE extended to pre-primary, maintain their exemption!
In a submission made to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) as part of the New Education Policy consultation process, the Jesuit Educational Association (JEA) in collaboration with CBCI (Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India) suggests –
- Amend RTE Act to provide education for 0 to 14 of age, & all promotion till class 3
- Give autonomy to schools; allow more autonomous education boards by those who have been in the forefront in Education
- Go by the Supreme Court Verdict of 6th May 2015 which clearly states in two separate judgments: 1. The minority schools both aided and unaided are exempt from RTE. 2. It is the prerogative of the child and the parents to choose the medium of education…The intent of Indian Constitution (Art. 30 (i) is not to be tarnished by insisting on having any fixed percentage of students (like 25% or 50% etc) in the school or college to enjoy the Minority status or to acquire the Minority Certificate.
So while missionaries want full autonomy to run their schools, they want to State to beat private Hindu schools with an even bigger RTE stick!
Uniformity is the foundation of Rule of Law
The lack of uniformity in law, especially in the education sector, will be one of the lasting legacies of Sonia Gandhi. Only time will tell whether Bharat can recover from the tangled web woven by UPA which is decimating our educational capacity
If you care for education of the poor & want the choice to decide which school to send your ward to – you must oppose RTE in its current form.