Minority Insititutions Cannot Insist On Students Studying Religious Books: Karnataka Education Minister On Bible Row
The minister said although minority educational institutions enjoy administrative relaxations, they are not allowed to teach religious books.
The Karnataka government has issued a notice to a school in Bengaluru seeking an explanation over reports that the institution insisted on a mandatory undertaking from parents that they will not object to their wards being taught the Bible.
Minister for Primary and Secondary Education B C Nagesh said the move is a violation of the Karnataka Education Act and that action would be taken after obtaining a response from Clarence High School.
“Although minority educational institutions may get administrative relaxations, they are not allowed to teach religious books. There will be no special provisions in the curriculum to teach or preach religious books in schools. All these were mentioned while issuing the No-Objection certificate,” Nagesh was quoted as saying.
He added that the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) and Block Education Officer (BEO) are already looking into this report. Block education officers have been instructed to check if other Christian schools are also following the same.
The undertaking in the application form required parents to “affirm that your child will attend all classes, including morning assembly scripture class and clubs for his/her own moral and spiritual welfare and will not object to carry Bible and Hymn Book during his/her stay at Clarence High School".
The archbishop if Bangalore Dr Peter Machado though called it "propaganda by organisations with vested interests" and urged people to "not be swayed by it".
“The management of the school has clarified that such a practice was there in the past. Since last year, no child is required to carry a Bible to school or is asked to read by force,” he said, as reported.
He added that the school was within its rights as a ‘minority Christian institution’ to conduct Bible religious classes for Christians outside of the school hours. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights also sought details from the district administration about the undertaking.
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