12/17/2018, 13.53
INDIA
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Government targets Delhi’s biggest Christian school

The school has been accused of raising fees in 2016. The school has been open for 48 years and the Indian Constitution grants it the power of self-regulation. Children will be transferred to public schools. The “goal is to control minority schools.”

Delhi (AsiaNews) – The authorities have decided to place Mount Carmel School in Delhi under closer scrutiny. The educational facility is the most important Christian school in the capital with about 3,000 students.

Educational authorities have accused the school of raising fees without prior notice. For this reason and without informing the school, it decided to withdraw its recognition after 48 years of activity.

"We are a private institution and we can self-regulate ourselves. We do not depend upon anyone,” Principal Michael Williams told AsiaNews. “Now 250 teachers and thousands of children are at risk. Their decrees will not be recognised."

The story came to light on 13 December when a petition was launched on change.org, a petition website. The next day, "I received a notice that the decrees issued by our school will no longer be valid,” said the principal. “In the letter the government warned me that students will be gradually transferred to public schools."

Formal recognition will be withdrawn on 1st April 2019. The principal is accused of raising fees for the 2016 academic year without government permission. "This happened two years ago, whilst the warning arrived just now."

Williams explains that "every Indian state has its own local educational law. The only schools that can be managed freely and independently are those of minorities, as laid out in Art 30 of the Indian Constitution."

As a school for the Christian minority, "we have great autonomy in educational matters, on teaching methods,” he explained.

In recent years, with the Hindu nationalist party in power in the central government, Christian schools have come under attack by Hindu nationalists.

The best known case dates back to last January involving a Catholic college in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, where Hindu radicals tried to perform a Hindu celebration to honour ‘Mother India’.

"The goal is to control minority schools," the principal said. Minorities "exercise this right in accordance with the Constitution, not state laws that refer to it. Our right is based on Art 30.”

For Williams, “we should have greater freedom. India needs more schools, to educate its children. Why close a good school? It is in the country’s greater interest to keep schools that work open."

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