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Minority school relief

Calcutta, July 15: The government today announced its decision to keep institutions run by Christian missionaries and other religious minority bodies out of the purview of the School Service Commission (Amendment) Act, 2006.

Under this act, all institutions receiving government aid have to recruit teachers and heads through the state school service commission.

'We can assure you that schools run by Christian missionaries and also Anglo-Indian institutions will never be brought under the jurisdiction of the school service commission act,' school education minister Partha De told the Assembly.

'We will soon place the bill before the House to amend it. We are now examining the provisions that need to be incorporated into the act to protect the rights of minority schools,' the minister said.

The act had triggered a controversy after it was passed in the Assembly on February 26. Church heads and Christian missionaries running more than 700 educational institutions across Bengal saw it as a move to curtail their independence. Article 30 of the Constitution guarantees them the right to follow their own recruitment policies.

They argued that recruiting teachers through the commission would affect the 'high standard' of education offered at their schools.

Before De's announcement, Barry O'Brien, the MLA representing the Anglo-Indian community, urged the government to exclude missionary and Anglo-Indian schools from the purview of the act.

'We admit the act needs reconsideration. My department officials have discussed the matter with governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and also with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. They have both suggested that it be reconsidered,' the minister said.

De, however, added that though the government does not want to interfere in the administrative and academic policies of minority schools, it is working on a plan to keep an eye on the functioning of all aided and unaided institutions.

'We need to monitor each school as there is a clear ruling of the Supreme Court in this regard,' he said. 'But we will take the final decision on this after consulting the schools.'

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