The Indian Constitution has provided for various fundamental rights for effective implementation of the democratic system. Of these fundamental rights, the cultural and educational rights of minorities play an essential role in the development of the individual. In this article, we will discuss the cultural and educational rights of minorities, why are cultural and educational rights important, how do these rights protect the interest of minorities and the main objectives of the Right to Education Act?
What are Cultural Rights?
Cultural rights mean the right to preserve and practice one’s culture, language, and script. Article 29 (1) of the Indian Constitution states that every citizen belonging to a different language, culture, or script shall have the right to preserve it.
E.g., a person belonging to the Maharashtrian community has a right to speak Marathi and practice its culture in Karnataka.
Article 29(2) of the Indian Constitution states that every citizen shall have a right to take admission to any educational institution, whether aided or unaided. Such a right cannot be denied on the ground of race, religion, caste, language, etc.
E.g., a person belonging to Scheduled Caste cannot be denied admission in any Private English Medium School.
What are Educational Rights?
Educational Rights mean the right to education where no person can be denied admission in any educational institution based on minority criteria.
Article 30 (1) of the Indian Constitution states that all religious or linguistic minorities have the right to set up and manage any educational institution they wish to.
Article 30 (1A), inserted by the Constitution (Forty-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1978, omitted a ‘Right to Property’. However, it ensured the right of minorities in setting up and maintaining an educational institution is not affected.
Article 30 (2) restricts the state from making any distinction while granting aid to the minority educational institution.
For Eg., A Sindhi or a Gujarati has a right to set up Sindhi or Gujarati language educational institution in Maharashtra.
The Indian Parliament has enacted the Right to Education Act on 4th August 2009; it outlines the government’s roles and responsibility to check the education system and improve the quality of education in the country.
Main objectives of the Right to Education Act 2009
Article 21 (A) of the Indian Constitution provides free and compulsory education for all children under the age of 6-14 years up to class 8.
The main objective of this Act is to keep a check throughout the country, conduct a survey and identify the children who are eligible and interested in receiving an education but are unable to get it.
It ensures that the children who cannot afford education receive not only education but also other provisions such as stationery, textbooks, etc. It provides norms and minimum standards for teacher-pupil ratios, classroom, hygiene, drinking water facilities, working hours of teachers, school working days, separate toilets for girls and boys, etc. It further provides that no child is denied or expelled from school till class 8 to improve the child’s all-around performance.
The Act also directs the private institution to reserve 25% of their seat for the socially and economically backward classes. Thus ensuring just, equal and fair treatment of all children.
Who is a Minority?
Article 30 does not clearly define who constitutes a minority, but it categorizes minorities based on religion and language.
Article 29(1) talks about different languages, cultures, or scripts categorized as minorities. In terms of religious minorities, Section 2 (c) of the Minorities Act classifies five religions as minorities viz Buddhist, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. In Bal Patil Vs. Union of India and the Islamic Academy of Education Vs. The state of Karnataka, the court, looked into other factors such as ‘economic welfare’ to categorize a community as a minority.
Why are Cultural and Educational Rights important?
India being a multi-religious and multi-linguistic country with diverse cultures, Cultural and Educational Rights, is vital for developing the minority community. The Indian Constitution guarantees these rights to preserve the country’s diversity, thereby enabling the minorities to conserve and practice their culture and religion.
The Constitution provides for the protection of cultural and educational rights of minorities so that they can preserve and develop their culture in any part of the country. Thus, keeping their culture, language and religion are very important for the success of democracy.