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Army wants to be kept out of RTE purview

Army wants to be kept out of RTE purview
The Indian Army seems to disagree with the judiciary and the executive of the country on how to educate the children belonging to the disadvantaged sections of society. It has decided to oppose the 25 per cent reservation for the children from weaker and disadvantaged groups under the Right to Education [RtE] Act in its 150-odd schools. The army argues that implementing such a decision will hamper the educational prospects of wards of its own personnel.

The army sources say that the Army Headquarters has sent a letter to this effect to the defence ministry.

When Millennium Post broached the issue with the human resource development minister Kapil Sibal, he chose to steer clear of any controversy. He said, 'The Ministry of Defence must have written to us regarding this issue. Till the time the letter does not reach me, I cannot take a decision on it. Till I examine the matter, I cannot give a view on it.'

According to a Supreme Court ruling, army personnel are deemed to be a disadvantaged group with regard to education of their children. The army sources say that the force has been taken this view keeping in mind the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, which makes it compulsory for every private, unaided school to admit at least 25 per cent, children belonging to weaker and disadvantaged groups, in its entry-level classes.

According to an agency report, an army source has said that the reservation will deprive its wards of quality education in its schools. 'Already, there is a lot of pressure on our schools, and giving away 25 per cent seats to civilian children will deprive an equal number of wards of the Army personnel of good education,' stated the source.

However, the RtE activists disagree with the position taken by the army. Ashok Agarwal, an RtE campaigner, says, 'The right to education is based on the fact that there should be no discrimination between any two children. Primarily there should be no distinction between chidlren from the army background and non-army background. In any case, 75 per cent of the seats have been given to the army. It is a question of inclusive education. Inclusive education means that all sections should be in school. The Kendriya Vidyalaya and the Navodaya Vidyalayas are following the reservation policy, so what is the difficulty in the Sainik schools following the same practice? Why are they discriminating? I think their decision is totally illogical and unconstitutional.'
Tania Ameer

Tania Ameer

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