New Delhi: The government’s special schools have discovered that their selection process is in direct violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which stipulates that entrance tests are illegal up to class VIII.

The Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs), a special group of 594 schools across India, have conducted two rounds of “selection tests" to pick students violating the Act’s provisions, which took effect on 1 April.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the official monitor of the law, has asked the schools to scrap the test.

Graphic: Paras Jain/Mint

Under the Act, the entrance test should be scrapped or the law amended, he said.

“We don’t have anything against any particular institution, but we are the official monitoring agency for RTE," Kumar said.

NCPCR authorities said the schools that have broken the law will need to scrap the test and use a lottery to choose students.

The schools have a total of 207,000 students, with 30,000 entering every year in class VI, according to official statistics. These schools were set up in 1985 to provide quality education to talented children predominantly from rural areas selected on the basis of a written test.

JNV commissioner Manoj Singh said the schools have written to the human resource development (HRD) ministry, seeking its intervention. “Whatever final decision they take, we will abide by it," he said.

Another JNV official close to the development said the schools would seek an exemption. “We are catering to the poor and there should not be any hindrance in selecting quality students from rural backgrounds," he said on condition of anonymity.

“The JNVs are doing very well and part of the credit goes to quality student intake. Instead of implementing it universally, the RTE needs to be amended in favour of special schools like JNVs," the official added.

JNV students appear to be faring well in the Central Board of Secondary Education board exams. In the 2010 class X exams, JNVs had a pass percentage of 98.72% against 83% in general government schools. Independent, or public schools, had a 91.79% pass percentage.

NCPCR has also pulled up Delhi state government-run special schools known as Rajakiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalayas for conducting entrance tests. The state government, which runs 19 such schools, has been given time until 15 July to comply with the law.

Delhi education minister A.S. Lovely has sought Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal’s intervention in the matter, said an HRD ministry official close to the development.

NCPCR has asked all state chief secretaries to ensure that the Act is implemented, said Kiran Bhatty, national commissioner of RTE.