Established in 1998 by the Civil Services Society, the SANSKRITI SCHOOL located in Chanakya Puri, New Delhi has emerged as one of the top schools in Delhi over the years. Its holistic approach towards education replete with the latest technological advances and innovative teaching methods has contributed to the excellence of its students in various fields. The school has been constantly performing well in various parameters, from academics to extra curriculars and has found a place in almost every "top schools"surveys in Delhi.
And going by its success rate, the Department of Personnel and Training has come out with draft guidelines for setting up more "Sanskriti-type" schools in the country.
THE PROBLEMATIC POLICY:
However, its reservation policies for admissions have been highly criticised by both the parent community as well as the Delhi government for being biased towards the Group A Central Government officers. The Sanskriti school in Delhi, until recently, had a unique policy of reserving 60% of its seats for the children of such officers. While the school was being set up, the government had provided concessional land for the school, and financed its construction, infrastructure and corpus fund. And since its inception, the school had also charged differentiated fee from children of the general public.
For context, in 2015-16, Sanskriti's annual fee for "government category" nursery students was 33% less than that for the "general category." In nursery classes last year, for instance, out of the total 140 seats, 68 were for children of civil service servants and only 11 were for general category students. Apart from the 68 reserved seats, 16 seats come under discretionary quota for children of the elite civil servants. Also, nursery admission criteria are also different. The ‘siblings’ and ‘parent alumni’ criteria remain but the distance rule does not apply to group A civil servants. These policies have received flak from the general public but the DoPT as well as the school authorities have justified reasons for carrying out the admission process using these measures.
When the school's admission criteria was challenged at the Delhi High Court last year, a bench headed by justice Pradeep Nandrajog had on November 6, 2015 struck down the quota system in Sanskriti School underlining the need for an inclusive education system. The court observed that the reservation of seats for Group A officers was inconsistent with Constitutional guarantees of equality and the fundamental right to education under Article 21 A. It had said education was “the foundation” to build an edifice of social harmony and “the means through which one hopes to root out the divides that exists in society and integrate the country”.
An appeal against this decision was lodged in the Supreme Court. In January this year, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court's order and issued an interim order which reinstated the 60% reservation but with a modification. The reservation is now also open to children of defence officers and other government officers coming to Delhi on transfer. However the court inserted a vaguely phrased provision specifically for the Group A category, stating that their children should be not be denied admission, even if in mid-session, "on first cum first serve basis." The appeals were scheduled to be heard in April and the final judgment on the matter is still pending.
Assailing the Delhi High Court's order, the DoPT said the school was established to cater to the needs of children of central government employees who came to Delhi on deputation on tenure basis. Depending upon the availability of seats, the school also admitted children of public sector undertaking and parents employed in the private sector. Sanskriti school, DoPT’s appeal stated, had similar objectives to that of special schools started by the Ministry of Defence for the children of defence personnel who face hardships due to transfer in exigencies. DoPT argued that such schools are needed to address the difficulty faced by government officers in transferable jobs in "arranging quality education for their children." It further stated that their children undergo stress because of the ensuing change in education boards and that schools often refuse admission in mid-session.There was classification among the wards, the appeal admitted. But, it justified the differentiation saying it was reasonable and had a rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved. The Centre denied the school received sizeable chunk of financial assistance from the government, as concluded by the HC. Instead, the grants have come from organisations that cannot be considered as instrumentalities of the states. The school’s recurring expenditure is met from the fees charged from the students and not drain public resources through heavy subsidies.
In the end, we can only conclude that Sanskriti School has clearly set up milestones in the field of education in less than two decades and setting up of more such schools across a country should be seen as a welcome step. Parents as well as students have always given positive reviews to the school. And the admission policy only needs proper consideration and some necessary reforms which may be able to solve the pertaining problems.
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