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
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
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.