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'Relax norms for setting up new schools'

Pleads Minority education institutions in Bengal

Monday, July 13, 2009 09:14:13 AM, News Desk

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New Delhi: Minority education institutions in Bengal have asked Kapil Sibal and Salman Khursheed to relax norms for setting up new schools by a major central board, holding out the threat of confrontation, reports The Telegraph.


According to the report, the West Bengal Association of Minorities’ Educational Institutions (WBAMEI), the largest collective of minority education groups in the state, has written to human resource development minister Sibal and minority affairs minister Khursheed arguing that current norms indirectly thwart their rights.


In letters submitted to the two ministers today, the minority groups, including Christians, Muslims and Sikhs, demanded that rules followed by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) for setting up new schools be altered.


“We may otherwise be forced to adopt our rules and norms for setting up schools, which we are in any case allowed under the Constitution,” WBAMEI president Herod Mullick said.


Article 30 of the Constitution grants minorities the right to establish and administer their own educational institutions but the government can intervene in cases of mismanagement or corruption.


The CISCE conducts the Indian Certificate of Secondary Examinations for Class X and the Indian School Certificate exam for Class XII.


Under CISCE norms, at least half an acre in urban areas and an acre in rural areas are required for a registered education society to start a school. The association has demanded that the land required in urban areas be reduced to one-third of an acre for minority institutions.


The CISCE also has strict norms for infrastructure — size of classrooms, laboratories, libraries and playgrounds — and requires that private schools pay teachers salaries at government school rates.


The association said these rules favoured only those with large tracts of land and money, not those “genuinely interested” in education. “We are not saying that our schools should be allowed without any regulations. But to promote minority education, new schools can be put on probation to meet these criteria in time,” said Norton Emmanuel, one of the petitioners from Bengal.


A CISCE official said the norms could not be changed for one state. “The norms are aimed at maintaining minimum standards. If Bengal institutions are allowed leeway, the same will be demanded by institutions in other states.”


But HRD ministry sources said they would take up the concerns raised by the Bengal minorities with the CISCE.


The association has also petitioned the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions — the country’s apex regulator for minority education. The NCMEI, it is learnt, has indicated support for the association’s demands.




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