Parents protest outside the entrance of Carmel Junior College in Sonari on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Carmel Junior College’s decision to down shutters on a Hindi-medium school it runs for the less fortunate children has triggered strong protest from parents of the 200-odd students of the cradle.
Over 50 parents of underprivileged students of Classes II to VI protested in front of the Sonari campus on Wednesday afternoon.
Expressing concern over what their wards would do once the Hindi cradle — also called project school — closed down on March 14, agitators threatened they would not allow students of the prestigious English cradle to enter the campus if their problems were not addressed.
“Hum gareeb hai to kya humare bachchon ko padhane ka adhikar nahi rakhte? (Don’t the poor have the right to educate their children). My son said his teacher asked them not to come to school,” said Rita Devi, a domestic help and one of the protesters.
Agitated parents rued that authorities of the school had asked the students of the project school not to come without informing them first.
They also pointed out that the number of students enrolled in the project school was much more than 220, claimed by the authorities.
When told they could admit their wards in state-run cradles or other project schools, the parents said the alternatives were too far.
“For working parents like us, it is not possible to ferry our children to those faraway schools on a daily basis,” said a parent.
Agitating parents added that they would not budge unless a solution to the problem emerged.
Authorities of the cradle, however, said they had little option other than shutting down the school.
Principal of the project school Sister Gita said that according to state government rules, a Hindi-medium school that ran from the campus of another cradle needed proper registration and affiliation.
The Carmel project school did not have either of the two, she added.
“Firstly, we do not have permission to run this school. Secondly, running two schools from the same campus causes a space crunch and all students suffer,” she added.
The principal further said they had been planning to close down the school over the past three years.
The school also did away with Classes VII, VIII and IX last year and had not admitted students at the kindergarten level for the past two years, Sister Gita added.
“We have informed the parents about our move many times in the past. Besides permit issues, we think three hours of class provided by the project school are not enough. This apart, students of our English medium cradle need more activities and classes that require space,” she added.
The principal further said they were not against educating children.
“Here, we are not able to provide them with quality education due to space crunch and limited time. The children can learn a lot more in other schools,” she said.