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Indian government threatens independence of Catholic schools

Catholic World News - March 18, 2010

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India on March 16 objected to a decision by a prominent Indian government official that threatens the independence of some Catholic schools.

The Indian constitution provides that “all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” Offer a novel constitutional interpretation, Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, chairman of National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, wrote recently, “I have ordered that an institution must have a minimum, reasonable percentage of students from a particular minority community to claim the institution as a minority institution. I have set the figure at 30%.”

The legal recognition of “minority status” is important for Catholic schools because such schools are allowed to select their own administrators and teach religion classes, explains Father Babu Joseph, the bishops’ spokesman. The new interpretation thus paves the way for unprecedented government intrusion into personnel and curricular decisions at some Catholic schools.

According to recent Vatican statistics, India has 10,240 Catholic elementary schools with 3,223,651 students-- more than any other nation in the world, and more than the Church in all the nations of North and Central America combined. India has 5,555 Catholic high schools with 3,188,768 students-- again, more than any other nation, and more than double the number of Catholic high school students in all of North and Central America.

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  • Posted by: DrJazz - Mar. 18, 2010 8:54 AM ET USA

    Ah, educational bureaucracy! For his next trick, "Justice" Siddiqui will decide the maximum figure to make a majority. “An institution cannot have more than a maximum percentage of students from the majority community to claim the institution as a majority institution. I have set the figure at 52%.”

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