BeyondHeadlines News Desk
The CM of Delhi Smt. Sheila Dikshit, instead of ordering a probe, has chosen to defend the private schools on the issues of discrimination in school admissions in Delhi. In her recent letter in reply to Mr. Abdul Khaliq (Secretary General, Lok Janshakti Party, published on our site) she has argued that her government has done exceptional work in education. We at BH acknowledge the changing environment in school education and the improvements made during last few years. However, the CM has categorically avoided the question of discrimination against Muslim students in admission. We will continue to follow the developments. In the meantime Mr. Abdul Khaliq has written a letter reiterating the demand for thorough probe.
The letter is published below:
Dear Madam Sheila Dikshit Ji,
I gratefully acknowledge your letter dated 27/3/2012. Nobody has any doubt that under your stewardship, Delhi has made rapid progress in most sectors, including education. However, possibly because I may not have articulated the problems clearly, key issues that I had raised regarding nursery admissions in private schools seem to have been overlooked in your reply.
Madam, one of the major concerns of Muslim parents in Delhi is the fact that their children are denied equal access to quality education which is available mainly in private schools. You have taken umbrage at this statement and asserted that government schools also impart quality education. I wish that was true, but the reality or at the very least the general perception is that most government schools are, at best, second rate. Of course, there is no denying the fact that government schools on the whole are non-discriminatory in their admission policy. However, the contentious issue is discrimination against Muslims in admission to private schools despite the fact that even such institutions come within the ambit of the legislation and rules enacted by your Government.
The educational backwardness of Muslims is seen by social scientists as one of the prime reasons for their alienation, their poverty and their marginalisation, for which the panacea is an inclusive education. Due to communalisation of the public space, however, Muslims are unable to access the opportunities ostensibly made available to them by progressive liberals like you. This leads to their continued isolation and ghettoisation. Most Muslim parents, who can just about afford it, regard modern secular education in schools with some reputation for quality, as the single most important safeguard for their children’s future. Hence, their keenness to send their children to private schools of repute. But that is not happening. Madam, I would like to draw your attention to an article titled “Shutting the school doors on the Muslim child” which appeared in The Hindu newspaper dated 5/4/12. Based on the detailed research conducted by the author on Muslim Identity and Education, the article lays bare the terrible discrimination faced by Muslim children in the field of education. I enclose a copy for your perusal.
You have stated in your letter that the current admission procedure in private schools allows them the liberty to devise their admission criteria within the laid down parameters based on the recommendations of the Ashok Ganguly Committee Report. You go on to observe that there is no reason to believe that this policy allows schools to discriminate on the basis of caste, creed or religion. While there is no doubt that the recommendations in the Ganguly Commission Report were very well thought out, the problem is that many private schools have so manipulated the admission criteria in a manner that it is in violation of the basic principles on which the Ganguly Committee made its recommendations. To cite but one example; the Ganguly Committee had suggested 30 neighbourhood points for areas within three kms, but Cambridge school in New
Friends Colony has allotted only 7 points for residents of Zakir Nagar which is only one km away, clearly, with the intention of keeping out Muslim children who are concentrated there. The Committee had also recommended that schools should include minority groups, socially disadvantaged sections and economically weaker sections and allot a maximum of 10 points to a child belonging to any of these categories. This key recommendation has been ignored in so far as Muslim children are concerned.
The problem, as I see it, has got compounded due to the Supreme Court stay of the order of the Directorate of Education regarding admission criteria. This has emboldened private schools to believe that they can do as they please. The current self regulation regime is being thoroughly abused by the Managements of the private schools. Madam, the Supreme Court stay certainly does not imply that the Schools can devise any criteria, however unjust, unfair and unreasonable. Unfortunately, this is what is happening in many private schools today.
Madam, it is indeed gratifying to know that the State government is taking measures to promote Urdu as a subject in other than the 17 government schools having Urdu as the medium of instruction. One of the abiding tragedies of the country today is that Urdu, which represents the very best of a composite culture, has been reduced to a sectarian language meant only for Muslims. That the language has suffered precipitate decline post 1947 is clear from the fact that at the time of Independence, Urdu was the language of the law courts along with English. Today, many schools offer optional courses in German, French, Spanish et al, but the so-called secular syllabus has no place for Urdu. Meaningful promotion of Urdu is possible only if it is taught as an optional subject in schools across the city.
Madam, in conclusion, I would fervently plead with you to direct your education department to critically verify the admission criteria adopted by private schools to determine if they are fair, just and reasonable. It is also important that all schools place on the web full details of their admission procedures, names and addresses of the applicants, names and addresses of those selected and the number of children admitted from different social groups. For this purpose unambiguous directions need to be issued to the recalcitrant institutions.
With best regards,
- Shri Kapil Sibal , Honb’le Minister of Human Resource Development: for information & necessary action.
- Shri Salman Khurshid, Hon’ble Minister of Minority Affairs: for information & necessary action.
- Shri Wajahat Habibullah, Hon’ble Chairman, National Commission for Minorities: for information & necessary action.
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