The South Mumbai education department has issued a circular on May 4 urging minority schools in its zonal area not to conduct interviews of parents and children during the admission process keeping in sync with the Right to Education (RTE) rule that states that no child should be deprived of free and compulsory education. It has also warned schools not to refuse admission to students if they are from a particular community, failing which the department will punish them.
Though the letter on the department’s website mentions Catholic schools in particular, the education officer from the South Mumbai education department, on condition of anonymity, said that the warning is meant for all minority schools. The letter was issued after the Indian Union Muslim League Party complained to the state education minister two months ago that authorities of some Catholic schools had asked unnecessary questions to parents hailing from their community, which hurt their religious sentiments, during the pre-primary admissions.
Abdul Rehman Azmi, working president of Mumbai of Indian Union Muslim League Party, said, “We just want that all Indian citizens should be respected and not distinguished between on the basis of caste or religion.”
However, when contacted, school authorities said that they don’t indulge in such practises. Baptist Pinto, principal of St Mary’s School, Mazgaon, said, “We don’t conduct any interviews but just have a normal interaction with parents while checking their documents like ration cards etc. We will have to conduct a meeting to find out what complaint has been filed by the Indian Union Muslim League Party against the Catholic schools.”
Fr Gregory Lobo, secretary of Archdiocesan Board Education, said, “I have not come across any such letter, but I will call for a meeting to know what unnecessary questions are asked by school authorities to parents.”