|By Prof. Mathew C Ninan [ Published Date: January 19, 2015 ]|
The constitution of our country has given certain clearly defined rights to the minorities. Article 30 of the Constitution says that ‘the minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice’. The operative words here are “the right to establish and administer.”
Though there have been controversies and misgivings regarding minority rights and privileges, most of them have been laid to rest thanks to the famous judgment of the Supreme Court, popularly known as the T.M.A.Pai Foundation & Others versus the State Of Karnataka & Others, 2002. This is a landmark judgment as it was delivered by a Constitution Bench comprising 13 judges. This judgment is the law of the land to this day. The judgment speaks at length on the implication of the words, ‘establish and administer’ in very clear language.
The judgment goes on to explain:
“The right to establish an educational institution can be regulated; but such regulatory measures must, in general, be to ensure the maintenance of proper academic standards, atmosphere and infrastructure (including qualified staff) and the prevention of mal-administration by those in charge of management. The fixing of a rigid fee structure, dictating the formation and composition of a government body, compulsory nomination of teachers and staff for appointment or nominating students for admissions would be unacceptable restrictions.”
In spite of such well-settled position in law, it is surprising that the Govt of Karnataka is toying with the idea of divesting the minorities of their constitutional rights by bringing in a new logic, namely that a minority institution should have at least 25% students from the minority community to be eligible to be entitled to the ‘minority’ tag. Nothing can be farther from logic or reasoning. How can a Christian minority institution with barely 3% population in the country have such a large proportion of students from that community? Or a Muslim institution that proportion of students even when its population is around 13%?
The National Minorities Commission or the State Minorities Commission has certified these institutions as minority institutions. How can the State negate their status with these devious calculations? This is nothing but a ‘conspiracy’ to take away the minority status of all the most-favoured and reputed minority schools so that the powers-that-be can rule the roost. The only hidden agenda undoubtedly is to bulldoze them into submission.
The same circular that discusses this ‘minority’ bashing also has something to say about bringing the ICSE and CBSE schools under the purview of the State Education Act. When we read these two proposals together, the hidden motives are as clear as daylight. It is nothing but a blatant attempt to bring all these schools under the strange-hold of the bureaucracy. There is no other reason for these patently unreasonable moves.
The Supreme Court has exempted the minority self-financed schools from the purview of the RTE in the matter of giving 25% seats to the EWS category. One reason for the new logic on minority definition appears to be this issue. It is thus clear that they are trying to obviate or circumvent the Supreme Court ruling through this clever ploy. Is this not an attempt to stymie the authority of the apex court? Again the big question is why they target the unaided private schools for RTE seats instead of concentrating on government schools and aided schools. All these questions beg for answers.
“Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members – the last, the least and the littlest,” said Cardinal Roger Mahony. The measure of the civilization of a country is the way it treats its minorities. The majority community can legislate in any manner to suit their own interests, but it needs a tremendous amount of ‘empathy’ to be sensitive to the needs of the minorities. It is not just a matter of generosity or granting of largess, as much as a genuine desire to do justice to the minority’s legitimate aspirations. A responsive government is one that sees things in this perspective.
It’s all right to praise private institutions and their contribution to the society. Such praise has to be followed up with concrete support in their affairs. The fact of the matter is that these institutions by and large do well by virtue of the autonomy that they enjoy. They are able to plan and organize their programmes without let or hindrance. It is also a well established fact that institutions can grow and flourish only in a liberal culture with time-tested traditions and systems. Autonomy is the bedrock of such institutions. Any interference in the working of such institutions by the government will be detrimental to the future of our country, as good education is the bulwark of a progressive society.
“Of course, the aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and avoid the tyranny of the majority. (p. 102)” Cornel West, Race Matters.
Prof. Mathew C. Ninan is the Principal of the reputed Little Rock Indian School in Brahmavar, Udupi District in Karnataka. He is the recipient of the Kannada Rajyotsava Award for Education from the Udupi District in 2014. He had his early education in Kerala, schooling in CMS UP School, and High School, Kodukulanji and his collegiate education in Bishop Moore College, Mavelikara and St. Joseph’s College, Kozhikode.
Prof. Ninan did his MA (English Language & Literature) under the renowned Professor C A Sheppard, in the Calicut University. Thereafter he started his career in teaching as a Lecturer in English at SMS Junior College, Brahmavar in Karnataka. Then he moved to St. Aloysius College, Mangalore and lectured there till he was appointed Principal of newly started SMS College, Brahmavar. He served as its Principal for seven years. During this period, Dr. C.T. Abraham his father-in-law came to Brahmavar and established the Priority One India, a charitable organization. It was Professor Ninan’s dream to start a progressive, central school in Brahmavar. There was only a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Mangalore those days. Thus in 1982 the Little Rock Indian School, affiliated to CBSE was started. Little Rock was the first school affiliated to a central board in the private sector in southern Karnataka. The rest is history.
During an interregnum between his collegiate service and transition to School education, he went to the University of Bath, UK for a year and completed his MEd (Educational Management) in the University of Bath, UK in 1989. “This became the turning point of my life” says Professor Ninan. He became a self-confessed votary of children’s rights and a strong advocate of student-friendly school. No doubt Little Rock has become synonymous with quality progressive education. With over 3400 students and 145 teachers, Little Rock is one of the largest schools in Karnataka, and is a byword for innovation and excellence.
Awards from Manipal Jaycees (1985), Future Schools, Bangalore (2003,) Brahmavar-Barkur Citizens’ Forum (2007), Lions Club International, Udupi Region (2013), Udupi Dist Rajyotsava Award for distinguished service in the field of ‘Education’ (2014).
Published a book on school education, Soliloquies of a Principal
Attended many national and international conferences in India and in foreign countries. Prof. Ninan presented papers at several national level seminars. Topics of interest are School Climate, School Effectiveness, Leadership, Inter-personal relationships, Classroom Management, Classroom Communication, Classroom teaching strategies, Parenting etc. He has also conducted numerous faculty development seminars for Principals, teachers and parents in different parts of the country.
Little Rock’s Distinctions:
- Computer Literacy Excellence Award in 2002 instituted by the IT Ministry, Govt of India, for having the best IT facilities among the Schools in Karnataka State. The Award was presented by the Hon’ble President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam on August 29, 2002 at New Delhi.
- State Championship in 2003, 2004, 2012 and 2014 in Rural IT Quiz conducted by the IT ministry, Govt of Karnataka and TATA Consultancy Services, Bangalore. Little Rock received the State Runners-up in 2006, 2007 and 2011. Once again the National Runners-up in 2012.
- Verbattle – State-wide English Debate Competition winners (Junior Category) - 2012.
- National School Sanitation Award in 2012 (awarded to 100 select schools from all over India by the HRD ministry, Govt of India)
- Best School Award for the last 24 years consecutively from the Rotary Udupi, based on a General Knowledge Test conducted for the schools of Udupi District.
- Little Rock has conducted three international conferences – in 2004, 2006 and 2014. More than 800 School Principals and senior faculty from all over South India have participated in these conferences. Such conferences are rarely conducted by Schools in India.
- Little Rock was placed at the 20th position among schools all over India based on the Class XII Exam results of 2014 (Education World – September 2014)
by Prof. Mathew C Ninan - Principal, Little Rock Indian School- Brahmavar