Bishops body asks Sibal to amend Right to Education Bill


New Delhi : The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) has urged the central government to amend an education bill which, it says, leaves scope for political interference in running of minority-run educational institutions.

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The CBCI has objections with clause 21 of the Right to Education bill that was passed by both houses of parliament this year. The clause says that the managing committee of the educational institutions shall consist of local elected representatives, representative of the teachers and parents.

“The main consequence of this clause is the undue interference of politicians in the academic matters of the educational institutions,” Babu Joseph, Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) spokesman, told IANS.

He added: “It goes against the minority communities’ rights enshrined in the constitution that gives privilege to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. The new bill infringes on this right of administration without external interference.”

Babu Joseph said this clause was no guarantee that the educational standards would improve.

A delegation of CBCI also met Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal in this regard last week and, according to Joseph, he understood the issue. “A CBCI delegation last week met Kapil Sibal and made a request for an amendment. He seems to be sympathetic,” he said.

The Catholic Church runs more than 30,000 educational institutions in the country.

Joseph pointed out that the bill nowhere mentions “the role of the actual owner or the manager (of the educational institutions).”

However, the Catholic priest said the bill was a right step as it seeks to provide every child of the age of six to 14 years with the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school until completion of elementary education.