New Delhi: All private and minority schools have to reserve 25 percent seats in elementary education for underprivileged children, and any breach of the Right to Education act will fetch punishment, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said on Thursday.
Sibal told a television channel that it was obligatory to set aside a quarter of all seats for poor children from classes 1 to 8 but added that the reservation would start in Class 1 only from 2011.
It would take eight years by the time the reservation extends to Class 8, he pointed out.
Asked if there will be penalty for not complying with the legislation, the minister said: "It is now law, it can be statutorily enforced."
He said both aided and non-aided schools across the country have to follow the legislation.
Sibal warned that schools will not be allowed to segregate students from the disadvantage community in any form. "That is not acceptable to us," he said.
The minister clarified that minority schools were not exempt from the act.
"We believe every minority institution would itself like to (go for the reservation). There are disadvantaged sections in minority communities too. The minorities will be part of the national endeavour."
The government, he said, was "committed to root out the capitation fee" from the education system. "I will not spare anybody who indulges in this educational malpractice."
The minister said the legislation would succeed only if all the stakeholders join hands. "(Educating the child) is a community effort. We are not doing this ourselves. We are doing this for the unborn child".
The Right to Education act came into force on Thursday as a fundamental right.