City-based Christian missionary and Anglo-Indian schools are in a spot, following a state government decision making it mandatory for them to obtain a minority status certificate from the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.
Without the certificate, a minority school may lose its special rights, which include considerable academic and administrative independence.
As the directive has caught the schools unawares, various interpretations are doing the rounds. While some schools are fearing loss of their minority status, others suspect that even “undeserving schools” could manage to get the status.
Worried over the situation, the authorities of the Christian schools have decided to visit Delhi next week and meet members of the commission on February 22.
“We will urge the commission to ensure that deserving schools are not deprived of the status,” said Faustine Brank, a member of the Association of Christian Schools in West Bengal and president, Bangiya Christiya Pariseba, an organisation of church representatives running educational institutions in the state.
The schools are, however, gearing up for the coveted certification. “Prominent church-run schools, like Don Bosco and the Carmel group of institutions, have completed the procedures for obtaining the certificate from the commission,” added Brank.
Elaborating on the government notification, Santosh Mahapatra, an official in the school education department, said any school wanting to enjoy minority rights must have a certificate from the national commission. “All assistance meant for minority schools will be extended on the basis of the certificate.”
The Centre had set up the commission in 2006 to look into complaints regarding violation of minority rights by the institutions. The Centre has empowered the panel to award minority status to schools across the country.
To date, the state government has been extending minority benefits to 75 Christian missionary and Anglo-Indian schools, according to a list drawn up in the mid-1970s.
Now that the government is planning to formulate an act to regulate all categories of private schools — including the Christian missionary and Anglo-Indian ones — school authorities are insisting on an updated list.
“But instead of undertaking a revision of the list, the government has decided to allow only schools okayed by the national panel to enjoy minority rights,” said a school head.