The Karnataka government has sent a notice to a school in Bengaluru asking for an explanation over reports that the institution has insisted on mandatory pledges from parents that they will not oppose their wards learning the Bible.
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education BC Nagesh mentioned the move is a violation of Karnataka Education Act and that action would be taken after getting a response from Clarence High School.
“Although minority educational institutions can obtain administrative relaxations, they are not allowed to teach religious books. There will be no special provisions in the curriculum for teaching or preaching religious books in schools. This was all mentioned when issuing the no objection certificate,” Nagesh said.
He added that the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) and Block Education Officer (BEO) were already looking into this report. Education officials in the bloc have been instructed to check whether other Christian schools are also following the same.
The pledge in the application form required that parents “affirm that your child will attend all classes, including morning writing class and clubs for his own moral and spiritual welfare and will not oppose to wear Bible and Hymn Book while at Clarence High School”.
The Archbishop of Bangalore, Dr Peter Machado, however, called it “propaganda by organizations with special interests” and urged people “not to be swayed by it”.
“The school administration clarified that such a practice existed in the past. As of last year, no child is required to wear a Bible at school or they are forced to read,” he said, as noted.
He added that the school was within its rights as a “minority Christian institution” to conduct Bible religion classes for Christians outside school hours. The National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights has also requested clarification from the district administration on this commitment.