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Students forced to beg at Mount Mary Fair for money to renovate school

Mount Mary High School in Malwani (no connection to the church) asked students to raise Rs 2,500-Rs 5,000 each. Since many students couldn’t do so, groups of them were taken in batches to the Bandra fair without their parents’ knowledge and told to ask strangers for funds

Pay a few thousands for the school’s renovation or we’ll take your kids to the Mount Mary Fair and make them raise the amount by asking strangers there. This seeming threat would have been enough for parents of kids from Mount Mary High School in Malwani to fork out the sums of Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000 the management had asked their kids to raise.

Outraged parents protested outside the school yesterday
Outraged parents protested outside the school yesterday

Except, the parents were given no such choice and even students who had done so were taken in batches of 15-20 to the church, and made to ask for donations there. And here’s the real shocker: the parents weren’t even told this was happening.

The Mount Mary fair in Bandra
The Mount Mary fair in Bandra

According to sources, the school had planned to renovate its premises and had given receipts worth R2,500 to students between Std I and VII and Rs 5,000 to those from Std VIII and IX. However, since not all the students were able to gather the ‘donation’, teachers took a batch of 15-20 kids from different grades to the Mount Mary Fair and made them ask people for money there.

Parents show the donation form that was given to the students
Parents show the donation form that was given to the students

The school conducted this activity between Sunday and Wednesday and parents began to get suspicious when they noticed their children coming late from school. Only when they made enquiries did the parents find out what was happening. Enraged, a large number of parents gathered outside gate no. 6 of the school yesterday to protest against the activity.

The police were present outside the school in view of the protest
The police were present outside the school in view of the protest

Why do we pay fees?
“When we protested against what was happening, the school principal took a U-turn and said the children were never forced to raise the money. She claimed the students were asked and many of them volunteered. We send our children to school to educate them, not to learn such things.

If they have to beg for money on behalf of their school, why are we paying fees?” asked Farzana Khan, a parent of a Mt Mary High School student. Another parent, Farha Shaikh, said, “Why should we make donations towards the school? When they are conducting the construction activity, why should we bear the burden?

When I came to know that my child was made to ask for donations at Mount Mary Fair, I was outraged.” “This is absolute cheating by a school with their students. Instead of giving them education, they are harassing our kids. Due to such pressures, the students were depressed.

They were so tensed that they could not concentrate on their studies,” said a parent, Sabana Mistry. Talking about how they came to know of the activity, Asmat Jahan, another parent, said, “I didn’t know why my daughter was coming late from school.

After I enquired, I found out that the school was taking students to the Mount Mary Fair to ask for donations to help them in their construction activities. I was shocked on knowing this and I asked my daughter about other students who were taken to the fair.”

The other side
Sushma Mestha, the principal of the school, told mid-day, “The students were not forcibly sent to ask for donations at the event. We did give our students receipts requesting them to donate towards the school’s construction activity, but we told them to do so in their capacity.

The children were taken to the event by Christian teachers who are part of the school. I have sent memos to these teachers requesting them to explain their actions. After that, we will take action against them.”

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