Delhi wants control of religious minority schools
by Nirmala Carvalho

Religious institutes in India do not follow the government education system. A report by the National Commission for the Protection of Children's Rights advises the government to revoke the status enjoyed by minority schools. Fr. Babu Joseph: "Propaganda narrative".



New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The National Commission for the Protection of Children's Rights (NCPCR) has recommended that the Indian government bring the schools of religious minorities within the government education system: the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, regulated by article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The announcement came soon after the release of a report on the status of schools in India, including Muslim madrasas and Christian institutions. "The purpose of the survey was to assess the differences between state institutes that follow the government's educational program and schools of religious minorities," explained Priyank Kanoongo, president of Ncpcr. "Article 21," he says, "is not applied to schools of religious minorities, but this exemption should be cancelled because of the disproportionate number of believers and schools.

According to the survey, 74% of students in Christian missionary schools are not Christian, and only 8.76% of students come from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Christians run 73% of schools and Muslims 23%. In West Bengal, 93% of minorities are Muslim and 2.5% are Christian. There are, however, 114 Christian schools and only two Islamic madrasas. In Uttar Pradesh although the Christian population is less than 1%, there are 197 Christian schools. 

Fr. Babu Joseph, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, explained that the report seems to be "a propaganda narrative": "If the Christian population throughout the country is 2.3%, it is obvious that they will be a smaller number in schools as well. It's also wrong what they are saying about granting minority school status."

From the survey, it also appears that the missionaries' schools are elite schools and are not aimed at the needy population. "This is in contrast to the right-wing populist accusations that missionaries would lure the poorest with free education," added Fr. Jospeh. "It is good to keep in mind," the cleric explained, "that educating the children of the country is the responsibility of the government and not of a minority community as such. And if the Christian community has invested its scarce resources for the public good, this should be recognized, since we do not receive government funds for education."