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Bishops agree to Madhya Pradesh school law

However they won’t tolerate interference on how they are run

Bishops during the meeting Bishops during the meeting
  • ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal
  • India
  • February 2, 2011
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Catholic bishops in a central Indian state say they will implement a new education law in Church schools, but without government interference.

“The new law raises more questions than answers,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, who heads the Church in Madhya Pradesh, told ucanews.com after an extraordinary meeting of the regional bishops’ council.

The state government had asked all schools, including those managed by minority groups, to implement the Right to Education Act.

The law introduced in April last year gives children between six and 14 the right to free and compulsory education. It also stipulates schools should set aside 25 percent of places in the first grade for poor children.

“We have no problem in accommodating poor children in our schools as we have been doing it already,” Archbishop Cornelio said.

The bishops’ January 31 meeting in Bhopal, the state capital, however pointed out that the law does not specify how minority education institutions should implement the law.

The government, however, did not specify how the expenses of poor students will be met. All it has said is that it will pay what it spends on a child in its own schools, the archbishop said.

Church schools insist students should wear uniforms and be involved in extracurricular activities.

“Who will pay these expenses?” the prelate asked.

Archbishop Cornelio said since the new law allows government officials to monitor its implementation so they will likely keep coming and disturbing how the schools function.

The meeting declared the Church would not tolerate government interference with the administration of Church schools.

The Indian Constitution grants religious and language minority groups the right to manage their educational institutions without government interference.

 

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