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Status quo on panels

- Minority-run schools come under scanner

Shillong, May 8: The Meghalaya government has put on hold a directive to schools run by minority organisations in relation to the constitution of the school management committee, which has become a bone of contention between the schools and the government.

In a letter dated May 3, 2013, addressed to state director of school education and literacy J.D. Sangma, state education secretary F.R. Kharkongor stated that after amendment to certain provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, including Section 21, the state government is in the process of amending the relevant provisions of the Meghalaya Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010.

As per the amendment to Section 21 of the act, the following proviso was inserted: Provided that the school management committee constituted under sub-section (1) in respect of (a) a school established and administered by minority whether based on religion or language, and (b) all other aided schools as defined in sub-section (ii) of clause (n) of section 2, shall perform advisory function only.

In view of the above, Kharkongor directed Sangma to immediately withdraw the guidelines which were earlier issued for the composition of management committees for all schools other than those specified under sub-clause (iv) of clause (n) of Section 2 of the act as the rules for implementing the amended section of the act were yet to be notified by the government.

“Directions may also be issued to all your officers that status quo in respect of constitution of school managing committees of those schools indicated in subject above shall remain,” Kharkongor stated in the letter.

As per Section 13 of the Meghalaya Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010, a school management committee shall be constituted in every school, other than an unaided school within its jurisdiction, within six months of the appointed date and re-constituted every two years.

It also states that 75 per cent of the strength of the committee shall be from among parents or guardians of children studying in the school while the remaining 25 per cent shall be from among the elected members of the local authority, teachers from the school, local educationists/children in the school, to be decided by the parents in the committee.

Church leaders of various denominations under the umbrella of the Meghalaya Church Leaders’ Co-ordination Committee on Education (MCLCCE) had earlier urged the government to maintain status quo in relation to the act, especially with regard to Section 21.

The conglomerate of churches had also urged the government to review Section 13 of the Meghalaya Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010, and exempt with retrospective effect Section 21 of the act for all schools run by the different churches in the state.

The impact of Section 21 on schools run by missionaries and other churches is such that the sponsoring bodies will be nowhere as far as running of the schools and administration are concerned.

Although the proviso to Section 21 of the act states that the school management committee will only be “advisory” in nature, the act has failed to define the role of the sponsoring bodies, which has been a matter of grave concern in the state.

For decades, schools and colleges in Meghalaya have been run and managed by religious institutions, while a few are run by the government.