Kejriwal scraps quotas in Delhi's private schools

In a far-reaching initiative, the Delhi government scrapped management quotas and all other quotas for nursery admissions in private schools except those for the economically weaker sections, opening up 75 per cent of the total seats.

It also warned that institutions flouting the order would be taken over by the education department.

After a cabinet meeting, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said management quotas has been the breeding ground for the "biggest scandal" in the education sector in the country, and asserted that his government will not be a "mute spectator" to it.

He said the government has decided to scrap 62 "arbitrary and discriminatory" criteria listed by the schools on their websites for admissions. The criteria abolished by the government ranged from first-born child to parents education and achievement. The government made it clear that there cannot be any screening of the children or their parents.

Kejriwal said the cabinet has taken a decision to scrap the quotas and 75 per cent of the total seats except 25 per cent for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), will be made available for all admission seekers.

Certain criteria put out by the schools were "very shocking" and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution relating to equality before law, he said.

The decision by the government came in the midst of the admission process for nursery classes in over 2,500 private schools in the capital.

"What is management quota? Under it, you get admission if someone is recommended by a chief minister, education minister, judge, police commissioner, SHOs or by an income tax official. Either it is recommendations or seats are sold.

"Management quota is the biggest scandal in the country which the Delhi government is scrapping. 75 per cent admissions in the private schools will be under open category. Other than EWS category, there will be no other quota," Kejriwal told a press conference.

Warning schools of stringent action in case of violations, he said his government will use all available options against erring institutions, including takeover. "If they do not budge, they can be derecognised or government can take them over," he said, adding "the mafia had captured the education system and made it a business. The government will not tolerate this."

Following the cabinet decision, the Directorate of Education issued an order directing all the private unaided recognised schools to "develop and adopt criteria for admissions for the 75 per cent Open seats to entry level classes for session 2016-17 which shall be clear, well defined, equitable, non-discriminatory, unambiguous and transparent." All these criteria and their points were to be uploaded on the departmental website.

Kejriwal, with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, beside him, said the decision was taken to ensure that the admission process becomes pro-people and transparent. Private schools in Delhi have quotas for management, siblings, alumni and many others.

The decision also prohibits schools from making parents declare details like whether they smoke or drink or consume non-vegetarian food.

The high court, in an order, had asked the Delhi government not to micro-manage the admission process following which the Education Department had allowed the schools to frame their respective criteria and put them on their websites.

The government also quoted Delhi High Court's judgment dated 19 February 2013 saying it had held that private unaided schools cannot be allowed to run as teaching shops.

"The Education Department officials told me that court has directed not to micro-manage the admission process. I told them not to worry. Tell the court that I have done this. I will tell the court that management quota is the biggest scandal and this should be stopped. And now the cabinet has given its approval," said Kejriwal.