New Delhi: The all-boys Sainik Schools, which serve as feeder institutions for preparing cadets for the armed forces, will finally open its doors to girls in 2021 — marking a historic change and fulfilling a long-pending demand.
The Narendra Modi government is working on changing the admission rules for Sainik Schools from 2020 onward and the admissions are likely to happen by 2021, a government source told ThePrint.
The state governments have already told the Sainik Schools to start developing the necessary infrastructure to induct girls and the required medical facilities too.
Once all Sainik Schools have the required infrastructure to induct girls, the admission process will begin, a source from the human resource development (HRD) ministry told ThePrint. The ministry has been kept in the loop for all the necessary academic collaboration with the schools.
A teacher at a Sainik School in Chhattisgarh told ThePrint over phone, “We have already been told by the state government to start preparations for (creating) infrastructure for girls and the plan is to start the admission most likely within two years.”
The idea of giving admission to girls in Sainik Schools was first experimented in Chhingchhip, Mizoram, last year. After the successful experimentation, the government is now planning to implement the idea in all the 28 Sainik Schools across the country.
Currently, Sainik Schools only induct girls who are the children of the schools’ staff.
Sainik Schools to reserve seats for girls
To start with, the admissions will be done on the basis of reservation for girls. In the first year, 10 per cent seats will be reserved for girls, in the next year, 15 per cent seats will be allotted to girls and 20 per cent in the year following, the source in HRD ministry said.
“It is a good thing if girls get into Sainik Schools because the whole idea of these schools has changed a lot from the time of their inception. Now it’s no more mandatory for students to write the NDA (National Defence Academy) test if they are studying in Sainik Schools. They are more or less like any other good public school now, which have impetus on physical activity and include bits about the forces in their curriculum,” said Lieutenant General (retired) H.S. Panag.
Sainik Schools were established by former defence minister V. K. Krishna Menon. The first Sainik School was set up in Satara, Maharashtra, in 1961.
Sainik schools were conceived with the idea of sending the maximum number of its students to the armed forces through National Defence Academy. Girls were not inducted in Sainik Schools as women were not allowed in the armed forces in non-medical roles until 1992. From that year onwards, women started joining the armed forces in non-medical roles, but Sainik Schools were still not opened to girls.
When it comes to combat roles, women are still not inducted in the Army, but only in Navy and Air Force.
The demand to allow girls in Sainik Schools began around three-four years ago with the induction of more and more women in the armed forces.
Sainik Schools are like any other regular school with some differences in their curriculum. They focus more on physical and military-like training activities for the students.
They are run by Sainik Schools Society — an autonomous body functioning under the Ministry of Defence. The funding for these schools comes from the respective state governments.