The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Schools await govt response

Nov. 1: Christian leaders in Jharkhand have hailed the Supreme Court’s verdict on minority educational institutions and said the judgment gives more respectability to the “prevalent” methods of administration in most minority institutions.

Some minority leaders, however, expressed apprehension about the manner in which the state government would play its stipulated role in the running of such institutions. The three main churches — Roman Catholic, Church of North India (Anglican) and Gossner Evangelical Lutheran — run hundreds of institutions in Jharkhand. Besides, other Protestant orders also run institutions. Similar institutions are also run by other linguistic and religious minorities in the state.

“The verdict is fair. An institution that enjoys government grants must display a considerable degree of accountability. After all, it is getting public money. I do not think anyone should be complaining about the judgment because it increases transparency and accountability in the running of minority educational institutions,” Xavier Institute of Social Service director Beni Ekka told The Telegraph.

“Merit, even after taking into account the reservations, has to be the common denominator in admitting students. More or less, practices such as those suggested by the apex court were being followed in admissions to most institutes. So there is no need for worry,” Ekka said.

A prominent Jesuit educationist said it was now up to the government to ensure that the same “quality control” mechanisms were followed in the administration of these institutions. “I would love to have a government representative sit through the cumbersome admission process adopted by the minority institutions,” he added.

The verdict was perfect, according to Sister Flavian of Carmel Junior College, Jamshedpur. “We are apprehensive about how the government will respond to the ruling. In matters of admission, we do not go by the community to which a student belongs. I hope we are not targeted by the government,” she added.

Jharkhand Minority Secondary School Teachers’ Association spokesperson Afsar Ali said the ruling was welcome. The secretary of the Hazaribagh-based Anand Boys’ High School, Sajal Mukherjee, also praised the verdict, describing it as “historic”. He, however, wondered whether the state government would play the role expected from it. “Minority school teachers, for instance, have not been paid their salaries for several months. The basis has to be give-and-take. It cannot be one-sided,” added Mukherjee.

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