RTI Act helped in unearthing the G.O.
Speaking of the 1978 G.O., noted educationist Kalyani laments, “It is unfortunate that no government has even bothered to implement it.”
It was in the quest for this 1978 G.O. that the 1994 G.O., mandating group-based reservation, was discovered, says Devaneyan A. of Thozhamai, an NGO.
“It was a struggle to even get hold of the order. No one in the school department was able to help me, and finally, after years of hunting for it, I managed to get it through an RTI petition.” He is hoping that now that the G.O. is unearthed, it would be implemented post haste.
D. Ravikumar, ex-MLA and the VCK’s nominee for the Vanur constitunecy, also recollects raising the issue in the Assembly in 2006, and giving the then Education Minister a memorandum. “I wanted it to be implemented so that poor, rural students are not continually pushed to vocational streams and humanities subjects. Not all these students go only to government colleges. In many instances, parents struggle to put them into private schools for a ‘better education’. The good thing is that the G.O. asked for group-wise reservation in private institutions also, giving those students a true chance.”
As much as educationists concurred that the G.O.s were progressive and “ahead of their time”, they remained perplexed that they were never implemented in a State that claimed to look at social equity seriously. “This is a social protection scheme that was multi-dimensional and covered several vulnerabilities. Also, it came way before the Right to Education (RTE) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, remember,” points out Aruna Rathnam of UNICEF.
Some educationists claim that there is not even a semblance of representation of Dalits in the science streams of many private schools. The focus should shift from a board exam result-oriented approach to being truly inclusive, they add.