A school in the Kerala capital has allegedly denied admission to a boy whose parents did not fill the religion column in the application form, prompting the government of the state that is widely hailed for its progressive and secular credentials to seek a report.
The parents, Naseem and Dhayna, had sought admission for their son to the first standard at St Mary’s School, a government aided institution. They alleged that the school authorities had claimed that registration would not be possible on the education department’s “Sampoorna” portal without filling the “religion” column.
“We were informed by the school authorities that it was not possible to give admission to our child as we wrote ‘nil’ in the religion column. They claimed that if ‘nil’ is mentioned, the admission process would not get registered in the school management software of the education department,” Naseem said.
Sampoorna is a school management project implemented by the Kerala education department to streamline and automate the processes at over 15,000 schools in the state.
The parents later approached the ministry and the Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI) to get further clarification.
“State government officials denied that there were any issues with the software and confirmed to us that the admission process was going on. When we approached the school authorities again, they asked us to give in writing that we, the parents, would take responsibility of any issues that might occur in future,” Naseem said.
Reacting swiftly, the state government has sought a report from the DPI and the deputy director of the education department. “We have asked the DPI and the deputy director of the education department to look into the matter and file a report as soon as possible,” education minister C. Raveendranath said.
The parents said that after the news spread, a school official called them offering admission. “But we decided not to enrol him there due to the approach of the school authorities,” said Naseem, who runs a catering business after returning from the Gulf.
The school management has claimed that they had sought a letter from the parents to avoid trouble in future.
“When the school authorities asked why the religion column was left blank, the parents said they were not interested in filling that part. The parents have that right. But most benefits given by the government to schoolchildren are based on religion. We just wanted to ensure that the parents take the responsibility in case the student misses out any such benefits in future,” the management said in a release.
The school authorities maintained they never denied admission to any student.
The parents are now seeking to admit their child to another school in Thiruvanathapuram.
Ravindranath had recently claimed in the Assembly that over one lakh children in Kerala had left columns relating to caste and religion blank in school admission records during the 2017-18 academic year.