Shripad Naik, junior minister of defence with Government of India, has denied that his ministry has any plans to admit girls to Sainik Schools, contrary to claims made by predecessor Subhash Bhamre last year.
“Presently there is no proposal to admit girls in Sainik Schools,” Naik said today in parliament.
Sainik Schools were established in the 1960s to provide a level playing field for students from socially and financially backward households to join the defence forces as officers.
The schools provide all-round education focused on grooming bright students to join the National Defence Academy, India’s training academy for officers for the army, the navy and the air force.
Sainik Schools expect the students to be disciplined and accomplished.
They include running tracks, cross-country tracks, indoor games, parade grounds, boxing rings, firing ranges, canoeing clubs, horse riding clubs, mountaineering clubs, trekking and hiking club, and facilities for playing football, hockey, cricket, volleyball and basketball.
Neither the NDA nor Sainik Schools currently admit girls or women, but there have been calls to open up the institutions to the female gender.
Some Sainik Schools, which are run by the Sainik Schools Society controlled by the Ministry of Defence, have however admitted a handful of girls in the past, including the one in Lucknow and another in Chhingchhip in Mizoram.
Naik said six girls each were admitted to the Chhingchhip school in 2018 and 2019 “on pilot project”.
He also said the Maharashtra government is keen to set up a Sainik School exclusively for girls.
A letter to this effect, he said, was received from the state government in 2017.
CHANGE OF HEART?
Speaking at a meeting of the principals of all the Sainik School in 2018, Naik’s predecessor Subhash Bhamre had said that a decision had been taken to admit girls to all Sainik Schools across the country.
He also said that infrastructure was being developed at these schools to facilitate girls’ education and that the first admissions would be done in 2019.