Admission under Educationally Weaker Section (EWS) Quota
Meaning, Criteria, Eligibility & Sources of Data (2023)
The Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in India is a category of people who are not from the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), or Other Backward Classes (OBCs) but who have an annual total family income of less than ₹8,00,000/- (around US$10,000). They are eligible for a 10 percent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. However, often the income criteria vary from one state to another, details of which are presented below. To be eligible for an EWS certificate, a person must meet the following criteria:
- They must not belong to any SC, ST, or OBC categories.
- Their family’s annual income must be less than ₹8,00,000/-.
- They must not own more than 5 acres of agricultural land.
- The area of their residential flat must be less than 1,000 square feet; and
- The area of their residential plot must be less than 100 square yards in a notified municipality sector and 200 square yards in a non-notified municipality sector.
The EWS reservation was introduced to provide opportunities to people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are not already covered by other reservation schemes. It has been met with some criticism, with some arguing that it is unnecessary and dilutes the benefits of reservation for other groups. However, the Government has defended the EWS reservation, arguing that it is necessary to address the problem of economic inequality in India.
Here are some of the benefits of being an EWS candidate:
- They are eligible for a 10 percent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
- They may be eligible for financial assistance from the Government, such as scholarships and loans; and
- They may be eligible for other benefits, such as priority in housing and other government schemes.
A person can apply for an EWS certificate online or at a government office and must furnish proof of his/her income, family size, and property ownership upon submitting the information; an EWS certificate may be issued, which may be used to apply for jobs and admission to educational institutions that offer reservations for EWS candidates.
Criteria of EWS
As mentioned above, the EWS criteria may vary from state to state. The central Government has set the income criteria for EWS at ₹ eight lacks per year. However, states may also set criteria for other factors, such as property ownership and educational qualifications. For example, the state of Kerala has set the income criteria for EWS at ₹ four lacks per year, and it has also imposed a maximum limit on the amount of land an EWS family can own to 2.5 acres of land. The state of Uttar Pradesh has set the income criteria for EWS at ₹ six lacks per year, but it has no restrictions on property ownership. Few states have set minimum educational qualifications for EWS candidates, like Uttar Pradesh sets EWS candidates to have completed 12 years of schooling. It is, however, essential to observe that the EWS criteria are subject to change & may vary across states.
EWS benefits in the Education Sector
A person from the Economically Weaker Section gets a 10 percent reservation in government educational institutions, including central universities, IITs, and IIMs. In addition, they are also eligible for several other benefits, such as:
- Freeships & Scholarships:EWS candidates can avail of freeships and scholarships to help them pay for their education. These scholarships are usually offered by the Government and or by private organizations.
- Concessions: EWS candidates may be eligible for fee concessions in government and private educational institutions.
- Priority in Hostel Accommodation: EWS candidates are given priority in hostel accommodation in government and private educational institutions.
- Training & Placement Assistance:EWS candidates are eligible for training and placement assistance from government or private organizations.
In addition to the above benefits, the EWS person is also eligible for other government schemes and programs designed to help economically disadvantaged people. A few examples of how an EWS candidate benefits from the reservation in the education sector are as follows:
- An EWS candidate who scores 60 percent in an entrance exam for a government medical college may be admitted, even if other candidates with a higher score are not admitted because they do not belong to the EWS category.
- An EWS candidate who cannot afford to pay the tuition fees for a private engineering college may be able to get a freeship or scholarship.
- An EWS candidate who wants to study in a hostel may be able to get priority accommodation; and
- An EWS candidate who wants to get a job after graduating may be able to get training and placement assistance from the Government.
EWS Quota under the RTE Act 2009
The EWS education quota is based on the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009, which mandates that all private schools in India reserve 25 percent of the seats for children from economically weaker sections of society under Section 12(1)(c), which states that:
“(1) Every school shall admit at least twenty-five percent of the strength of its pupils in classes I to VIII, as the case may be, in the neighborhood to be filled up in the following order of priority, namely: (a) children belonging to the weaker sections of society as defined in clause (e) of Section 2; (b) children belonging to the Scheduled Castes; (c) children belonging to the Scheduled Tribes; (d) other backward classes.”
Section 12(1)(C) also defines the term “economically weaker sections of society” as:
“(e) economically weaker sections of society means such families as may be notified by the appropriate Government in this behalf following the criteria prescribed by the Central Government.”
EWS: Prescribed Norms
As has already been mentioned above that the Government of India has prescribed the following criteria for determining whether a family belongs to the EWS category:
- The family’s total annual income must not exceed ₹8,00,000/-
- The family must not own more than five acres of agricultural land
- The family must not own a residential house with more than 100 square meters of the built-up area; and
- The family must not own a motor vehicle.
The Admission Procedure
Parents wishing to apply for an EWS seat must submit an application form in online or offline mode and the required documents. Regarding the list of schools for EWS admission near the location of residence, the official website of the Directorate of Education of the concerned state should be visited. The school or the government authority responsible for implementing the RTE Act conducts the lottery system results, which are mandatory to be announced on the school’s/Government’s websites. Children who are selected are admitted to the school, and the Government subsidizes the fees of such EWS students, the amount of which depends on the total income of his/her family.
The EWS quota is a significant step towards ensuring that all children, regardless of their economic background, have access to quality education.
Admissions under EQS Quota: 2022-23
The state-wise number of EWS seats and percentage filled up for 2022-23 is presented in the below-placed Table, which shows that the percentage of EWS seats that are filled varies from state to state. The states with the highest percentage of EWS seats filled are Maharashtra, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, and the states with the lowest percentage of EWS seats filled are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand. However, the number of EWS seats and the percentage of EWS seats filled vary yearly.
Further, it is observed that the percentage of EWS seats filled in Union Territories is similar to that of EWS seats filled in states. The UTs with the highest percentage of EWS seats filled are Chandigarh, Delhi, and Puducherry, and the UTs with the lowest percentage of EWS seats filled are Ladakh and Lakshadweep.
From the available data, it is impossible to know precisely how many EQS seats remained vacant over a while and why such seats remained vacant. It is also unknown what bifurcation of seats remaining vacant by gender and how many attempts were made to fill them.
Number of EWS Seats with Percentage Filled-up: 2022-23
|Number of EWS Seats
|Percentage Seats Filled-up
|Jammu & Kashmir
|Andaman & Nicobar Islands
|Dadra & Nagar Haveli
|Daman and Diu
To understand the process of filling up EWS seats in one of the states of India, namely Delhi, the details in terms of criteria, eligibility, documents required, etc., are presented below. Delhi was selected because it has many EWS seats filled in and is a known state which has entirely developed an online system.
EWS Admission in Nursery Classes in Delhi
Here are some details of EWS admission in the nursery in Delhi:
- Eligibility criteria:The eligibility for EWS admission in the nursery in Delhi is that a child’s family income must not exceed ₹ eight lacks per year. The child must also be between 3 and 5 years old on March 31 of the admission year.
- Reservation:25 percent of the seats in nursery classes in private schools in Delhi are reserved for EWS candidates.
- Application process: The application process for EWS admission in the nursery in Delhi is conducted online. Parents can apply for admission through the Directorate of Education, Delhi website.
- Selection process:EWS candidates for nursery admission in Delhi are selected through a lottery system. The Directorate of Education, Delhi, conducts the lottery.
- Fees:The fees for EWS candidates admitted to nursery in private schools in Delhi are subsidized by the Government. The amount of subsidy depends on the income of the candidate’s family.
Types of Schools Offer Admission under EWS Quota
Schools that are supposed to give nursery admission under EWS in Delhi are listed below:
- All Government Schools in Delhi
- All Aided Schools in Delhi
- All Unaided schools in Delhi have received permission from the Directorate of Education, Delhi, to admit EWS candidates.
The Directorate of Education, Delhi, maintains a list of all schools that are supposed to give nursery admission under EWS details, which can be found on the Directorate of Education, Delhi website. The EWS quota for nursery admission in Delhi is 25 percent of the total seats in private schools’ nursery classes, meaning that 25 percent of the seats in private schools in Delhi are reserved for children from economically weaker sections of society. The Government subsidizes the fees for EWS candidates admitted to nursery in private schools in Delhi.
The criteria to get admission to Delhi Nursery are as follows:
- Age: The child must be between 3 and 5 on March 31 of the admission year.
- Parent’s income: The child’s parent’s annual income must not exceed ₹8 lakh.
- Residence: The child must be a resident of Delhi.
- Proof of identity: The child’s birth certificate and parents’ identity proofs (such as an Aadhaar card, voter ID card, passport, etc.)
- Proof of residence: The child’s parents’ proof of residence (such as ration card, electricity bill, water bill, etc.)
- Photograph: The child’s passport-size photograph
- Application form: The child’s application form for nursery admission
In addition to the above criteria, some schools may require the child to take an entrance exam or assessment. The school itself usually conducts the entrance exam or assessment. The results of the entrance exam or assessment will be considered along with the other criteria for admission.
The nursery admission process in Delhi is quite competitive, so it is essential to start preparing early. It is better to start collecting the required documents, filling out the application form, and researching schools falling under the neighborhood area and their admission criteria.
The application process for nursery admission in Delhi is usually conducted online. Parents can apply for admission through the Directorate of Education, Delhi website. The admission process in Delhi usually opens in December and closes in January. The selection of candidates for nursery admission is made through a lottery system. The Directorate of Education, Delhi, conducts the lottery.
The documents required may vary from school to school, so one must check with the school being applied for the school-specific requirements. Some of the documents that are needed to submit along with the application form are as follows:
- Child’s birth certificate
- Parent’s income certificate
- Proof of residence
- Passport-size photograph of the child
- EWS certificate
The EWS Certificate is issued by the Office of Delhi’s Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM). The child’s parents must submit a declaration stating total annual income and assets and supporting documents such as income tax returns, property ownership documents, and bank statements, if any. The SDM Office will then verify the documents and issue the certificate if the applicants are eligible. The income limit for the EWS Certificate in Delhi is ₹8,00,000/- per annum & the applicant must also be a Delhi resident and reside within the neighborhood as defined by the directorate of education.
Here are a few tips for parents to avoid falling prey to malpractices in EWS Nursery Admission in Delhi:
- Do not submit fake EWS certificates, a severe offense that can lead to imprisonment.
- Do not pay money to anyone in order to secure an EWS seat is also a severe offense and can lead to imprisonment.
- Ensure that all the required documents for EWS admission are submitted when submitting the application form.
- Verify the documents submitted by the school carefully.
- If you suspect there has been malpractice in the EWS nursery admission process, call the helpline number set up by the Delhi Government.
Malpractices Reported in EWS Nursery Admission in Delhi
A few malpractices reported are by parents and the rest by the schools offering admissions under the EWS quota:
- Some parents are found to have submitted fake EWS certificates in order to get their children admitted to EWS seats.
- In some cases, money has been alleged to have changed hands to secure EWS seats.
- In some cases, the schools have not adequately verified the documents submitted by the parents. All schools must check the documents submitted with the admission forms thoroughly.
- In some cases, the schools have used arbitrary selection criteria to admit children to EWS seats.
The Directorate of Education, Delhi, has adequately addressed malpractices and made it mandatory for schools to upload the EWS certificates of all admitted students on their websites, which facilitates the Government to track and verify the authenticity of the certificates. However, more needs to be done to ensure that malpractices are eliminated.
Few Facts about Nursery Admission in Delhi
The details of the total number of EWS and vacant seats in nursery admission in Delhi during the period 2014-15 to 2022-23 presented below reveal that the number of vacant EWS seats after the second round of draw of lots has been consistent in recent years, which is likely because the number of total EWS seats has not increased at the same pace as the number of applications for EWS seats. Vacant EWS seats in nursery admission in Delhi are filled up through a second round of draw of lots to ensure that all EWS children can get a seat in a private school.
Total Number of EWS Seats in Delhi: 2014-15 to 2022-22
|Number of EWS Seats
|Number of Vacant Seats
|%age Vacant Seats
A few facts & figures about EWS admission in nurseries in the Delhi area are as follows:
- In the 2022-23 academic year, 17,000 EWS seats were available in nursery classes in private schools in Delhi.
- Over 2 lakh applications were received for EWS admission in the nursery in Delhi in the 2022-23 academic year.
- The number of EWS seats in nursery classes in private schools in Delhi is expected to increase in the coming years.
There are a few reasons why EWS seats remain vacant in Delhi.
- High cost of private school education:The cost of private school education in Delhi is very high. In addition to the tuition fee, EWS students may need to pay additional fees, making it difficult for a few families to afford to send their children to private schools, even with the subsidy offered by the Government.
- Lack of awareness:Some families may not be aware of the EWS quota or the application process. This can lead to them missing out on the opportunity to apply for EWS seats.
- Competition:The competition for EWS seats is very high. This is because there are a limited number of seats available and a large number of families who are eligible to apply. It has also been observed that no vacant seats are available in good private schools.
- Distance:Some families may live far away from private schools that offer EWS seats, which makes it difficult for them to send their children to these schools. This may also be because of the concept of the neighborhood being followed in Delhi for admission to nursery classes.
The Government is taking steps to address the issue of vacant EWS seats. For example, the Government has increased the number of EWS seats and is conducting awareness campaigns to inform families about the EWS quota.
The Government of Delhi has taken a few steps to address the issue of vacant EWS seats, such as increasing the number of EWS seats and conducting awareness campaigns. However, more must be done to ensure all EWS children have access to quality education. Another significant limitation is that admission under the EWS is valid only up to Grade VIII; many students are reported to face problems in transiting to the next higher level of education, and those who could secure admission are not in a position to pay fees in the private schools given which admission under the EWS quota must be extended to Gradeee XII without further delay as the same will ensure that the child who is admitted in the nursery could able to reach and complete Grade XII.
Data on Admission under EWS Quota
To review the effectiveness of the scheme of admission under the EWS Quota, detailed information, including individual students who obtained admission under the EWS Quota, must be made available, which helps assess whether the scheme is implemented as envisaged. If available, the information may also be used to know whether the seat meant for EWS is filled in or left vacant.
Once a child is enrolled under the EWS, s/he must be tracked from one grade to another. This can also be used to know gender bias and whether a child completes an educational level and transit to the following higher levels. As of now, in most of the states, EWS Quota covers only up to Grade VIII. What happens to EWS students who complete Grade VIII? Do they transit to first grade, i.e., Grade IX of the next higher level of education, i.e., Secondary level? For that purpose, it is essential to have comprehensive information available for each EWS student, but unfortunately, the same is not part of the regular collection of information under UDISEPlus. However, some information is being collected under the EWS Quota, but it is hard to see the information so collected.
The primary source of information about admission under EWS in India is the official website of the Ministry of Education which contains information about the EWS quota, the eligibility criteria, the application process, and the list of schools that offer EWS seats. However, no information is available on individual students, which is essential in tracking students over time.
The data being collected under DISE & UDISE (partially also presently being collected under UDISEPlus) about EWS admission includes the number of EWS seats available in each school & number of EWS students admitted, the percentage of EWS seats that are filled, the caste of the EWS students, and the gender of the EWS students. However, the data collected about EWS admission is considered sensitive and not made public. However, the Government has released data on the number of EWS seats available in each state and the number of EWS students admitted to each state.
It may, however, be observed that from the year 2022-23, the Ministry of Education has started collecting information on each student, including information on admission under EWS Quota as a part of UDISEPLus through which it would be possible to track each of the EWS students. It is hoped that the Government will share the information in due course of time.