Shashi Tharoor Has Information Which MHRD Denies

MHRD has no information regarding how many schools were opened in Minority Concentrated Districts: Disclosed by RTI reply

Afroz Alam Sahil for BeyondHeadlines

New Delhi: Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India has no answer to how many schools were opened or sanctioned to be opened in minority concentrated districts. In a response to a RTI query filed by BeyondHeadlines on March 21, 2013, the minority cell of MHRD replied that it has no information about opening of schools in minority concentrated districts. The MHRD forwarded this RTI query to Minority Cell (MHRD), Section officer (Model Schools), Under Secretary (RMSA) and Under Secretary (EEI) on April 04, 2013. The Minority Cell of MHRD replied on April 09, 2013 that “No information as asked for in your RTI application is available with this cell. As such the information may be treated as NIL”.

MHRD Has No Information About Schools in Minority Areas.

The BeyondHeadlines filed a RTI containing the following questions:

  1. How many schools have been sanctioned, opened and operational in Minorities’ Concentrated Districts under various schemes of MHRD, Govt. of India. Please provide the list with name of school, blocks, district and state wise.

     2. How many Model Schools were opened in the Muslim concentrated blocks and districts of India.

     3. What is the percentage of appointment of Muslim teachers in such schools. Please provide details of such appointments district and state wise.

       4.   How many new schools are opened in Muslim concentrated districts.

   5.  What is percentage of Muslims teachers in such schools. Please provide details of such appointments district and state wise.

     6.    Please provide details, block wise and district wise under different schemes like Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, Rashrtriya Madhyamik Shikhsa Abhiyan.

     7.    How many teachers have been appointed under various schemes from elementary to higher secondary level to cater the school education.

But instead of replying para-wise to the RTI application, the minority cell, MHRD came up with a one-liner reply that it has no information regarding all the above mentioned questions. The question is when the MHRD is so casual and indifferent to the minority education, then on what basis the Union Minister of State for MHRD Dr. Shashi Tharoor informed the Lok Sabha on March, 20, 2013 replying to a written question asked in relation to minority education that government is committed to providing quality education to the Muslims of India.  He also said that “setting up educational institutions, with focus on improving access, equity and quality in Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs) is a priority for the Government”. Further he said that under  Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), districts with concentration of Muslim population are specifically targeted for maximizing school access and eliminating infrastructure gaps. Dr. Tharoor informed the Lok Sabha that as of December 2012, a total of 20,512 Primary Schools and 9,918 Upper Primary Schools have been constructed in Minority Concentration Districts and under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), 890 new secondary schools have been approved to be opened in MCDs.

Out of 3,609 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) i.e. residential schools for girls at Upper Primary level for girls belonging predominantly to the SC, ST, OBC and minority communities in Educational Backward Blocks, 544 KGBVs have been sanctioned in the Minority Concentration Districts, enrolling 10,821 Muslim girls.

The pertinent question is when RTI says that whatever information can be disclosed in Parliament can also be given to RTI applicant, then why the information which Dr. Shashi Tharoor disclosed while replying to a written question, was denied in a RTI application filed by Beyondheadlines? This also indicates that Minority Cell, MHRD either has no information about the questions asked or it does not care about the provisions of RTI.

The main purpose of Minority Cell, MHRD is to keep all information related to minority education but its reply to RTI shows that it has no good record of keeping all these information. This RTI has been transferred to other 3 departments of MHRD, lets see what response they give to it. But, one thing is very clear that Minority Cell is not working properly. One expects a lot from this cell but its reply to RTI demolished lot of hopes from it.

Why various government departments treat RTI in such a casual manner is a concern and a question which government must answer and should redress in the interest of transparency and accountability. Otherwise, without political will, RTI will soon become a paper tiger.

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