by: Shreya Singh
What is NCPCR?
The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is a statutory body established in 2007 under the Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, which was passed by Parliament. The commission is also mandated with responsibilities under two other respective acts namely the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Right to Education, 2009 act.
As previously stated, the NCPCR was established by the government through an act of Parliament. As a result, it is a statutory entity. It is made up of the following individuals:
- Chairperson – A person of eminence with a proven track record in the field of child welfare.
- There are six members in total:
- A minimum of two female members are required.
- Experience in the following fields is required:
- Child health, care, welfare, or development are all important aspects of a child’s life.
- Children who have been neglected or ostracised, as well as children with impairments, may be subject to juvenile justice.
- Child labour or youngsters in misery must be abolished.
- Sociology or child psychology
- Laws affecting children
FUNCTIONS AND MANDATES:
- Assess and review the safeguards in place for the protection of children’s rights in India under existing laws, as well as suggest ways to make them more effective.
- Investigate the factors that prevent children affected by terrorism, riots, natural disasters, communal violence, trafficking, HIV/AIDS, torture and exploitation, maltreatment, prostitution, and pornography from exercising their rights, and propose solutions.
- Investigate the needs of children who require special attention and protection, such as disadvantaged and marginalised children, children in conflict with the law, children of prisoners, and children without families, and make recommendations for solutions.
And many other functions in the same respect have been mandates so far.
WHY IN NEWS?
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), has recently released a report determining the need for accessibility of minority schools in the nation. These students are not specified to be receiving the equal benefit of RTE as others. Moreover, the report namely ‘Impact of Exemption under Article 15(5) concerning Article 21A of the constitution of India on Education of Children in Minority communities’, specified that a study has been carried out on the same issue. And, it further recommended that minority schools should be considered under the domain of RTE and SSA,
GLIMPSE OF BACKGROUND ISSUE:
In the year 2002, Constitution faced the 86th amendment and a reference of ‘Right to Education’ was added as a Fundamental Right. Article 21A was further added in the same amendment, which was made to make RTE a fundamental right for the children of age 6-14 years and the government was given the responsibility to look after the same. In the same order and with a similar objective, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) was established. Further, a central government scheme was implemented in partnership with state governments of respective states and aimed at the goal of providing relevant, elementary and useful education, to all the children of the age group 6-14.
In the subsequent time, 93rd constitutional amendment was passed in the year 2006 which resulted in the insertion of clause (5) in Article 15, which gave the power to the State, to establish and implement any advancement regulations for the backwards classes like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBC in all the unaided or aided educational institutions by providing certain reservations, except minority educational institutions.
Then, in the year 2009, the RTE act was bought by the Government wherein the state was held with a responsibility to ensure inclusive education for all and significantly the underprivileged group of children. And, Section 12(1)(c) of the Act is made about providing 25% reservation of seats in unaided schools for admission of children from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.
Subsequently, an amendment was made in the RTE Act in 2012 and institutions about religious education were exempted from the given act. Further, the validity of respective exemption was discussed in the year 2014 under Article 15(5), wherein Supreme Court held the court and announced the judgement by stating that the RTE Act held to be inapplicable to the educational institutes having minority status, and the reasoning for the same stated that respective right should not intervein with the Rights of Minorities to establish and administer institutions of their own will.
Resultantly, the Exemption of Minority schools to implement the Right to Education policy and their exclusion from the Government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan took place.
THE REASONS FOR CARRYING THE STUDY BY THE COMMISSION?
The commission had the view that Article 21A and Article 30 are contradicting and of opposite nature, as Article 21A certainly deals in providing the guarantee of educational rights to all the children while Article 31 expresses that minorities have several rights to set up their institutions with their own respective set of rules and regulations, and in addition, Article 15(5) be of a contradicting nature by exempting the minority schools from the domain of RTE.
And, the entire issue conclusively results from a conflicting picture between the Fundamental rights of children and the right to minority communities thereof.
Certainly, NCPCR kept on holding consultations and meetings with the teachers, students and communities in the year 2015-2016. In addition, in 2017, it had a meeting with state commissioners, in which 80 people were present, including chairpersons and members of 19 state commissions, and the national commission adopted a charter of proposals that included this impact.
The entire study was carried out in two respective phases, wherein:
1. Phase I – It aimed at focussing on the number of community types, affiliation status, enrolment, institutes, recognition status, affiliation status etc. Also, it involved the data analysis and desk review of minority educational institutes, belonging to a particular religious or linguistic group.
2. Phase II – The step had an objective of understanding the concerns and taking suggestions from minority institution’s representatives and the heads of educational institutions.
OUTPUTS OF THE REPORT:
- Non-Minority Minority Schools: Non-minority students made up 62.5 percent of the students in these schools.
- Only 8.76 percent of students in minority schools come from economically and socially disadvantaged families.
- Disproportionate Numbers: Muslims account for 92.47 percent of West Bengal’s minority population, while Christians account for 2.47 percent. There are 114 Christian minority schools and only two Muslim minority schools, on the other hand. And, The core goal of establishing minority educational institutions is undermined by this disproportion.
- According to the NCPCR, the Sachar Committee report from 2005, which claims that 4% of Muslim children (15.3 lakh) attend madrasas, only considers those that are registered.
- Furthermore, madrasa syllabi have evolved over centuries and are not uniform, resulting in students “being left ignorant of the world around them.” And, as a result many students develop inferiority complexes as a result of being cut off from the rest of society and unable to adapt to their surroundings. It also claims that there are no teacher training programmes in madrasas.
- Non-Uniformity in Madarsa: It was discovered that the Muslim community had the largest number of out-of-school children (1.1 crore).
ARTICLE 30: USED TO BYPASS RTE
The right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions is specifically mentioned in Article 30 of the Indian Constitution, to provide opportunities for children from various religious and linguistic minority communities to have and preserve a distinct culture, script, and language.
According to the NCPCR survey, many schools and institutions have registered as minority institutions simply to avoid having to implement RTE.
All such schools, including madrasas, should be covered by the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaigns, according to the government. After a survey revealed that such schools have a large proportion of non-minority students, the NCPCR backed reservation for students from minority communities.
There is a need to review the exemption made under RTE concerning minority institutions. Article 30 of the Indian constitution ensures the right of minorities to open their institutions for cultural, linguistic and religious protection. However, it should not contravene Article 21(A) which protects a child’s fundamental right to education.