Thiruvananthapuram

Admission denied for not specifying religion

School says move will create difficulties for child

A city school allegedly denied admission to a child as his parents, an inter-religion couple, filled ‘nil’ in the religion column on the application form.

Naseem Yacoob and Dhanya who live at Vanchiyoor had sought admission for their son to Class 1 at St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School, Pattom. After an initial assessment, they were asked to report to the school on Wednesday.

When the couple filled up the application form on the day, they did not specify any religion. On seeing this, the school authorities expressed reluctance in giving admission claiming that not filling the column could create difficulties for the child in future, alleges Naseem.

The parents were also told that the Education Department’s Sampoorna school management software on which a child’s details are added required that religion be specified. Else, they should furnish the necessary government orders to prove that declaring religion on the form was not mandatory.

The couple then contacted the Directorate of General Education where they were told that specifying religion was not mandatory on Sampoorna. They were also asked to contact the school Principal directly.

‘Furnish declaration’

On returning to the school, the parents were asked to furnish a declaration that the school would not be responsible for any problems that cropped up owing to their unwillingness to fill up the religion column, Naseem says.

Worried about his son’s future in the school, the couple decided against seeking his admission there.

Naseem says his son was earlier a Class 1 student of a prominent government school but since he had skipped upper kindergarten (UKG), they put him into UKG. When it was time to admit him to Class 1, they approached St. Mary’s school, especially since they planned to shift to their new house in Pattom. “We were never asked by the government school, where our son studied earlier, about our choice not to specify religion,” says Naseem.

After controversy erupted over the denial of admission, a local manager called up offering admission, but they decided against it in the wake of the school’s approach, says Naseem.

Archdiocese stance

Run by the Major Archdiocese of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, St Mary’s school is one of the largest schools in Asia.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Archdiocese said the school authorities had not denied admission to the child or behaved in a provocative manner. Moreover, on coming to know of the matter, the school local manager had informed the parents that there was no hurdle to seeking admission.

The statement said when religion was not specified on the child’s application form, the parents were asked about it. They replied that they were disinclined to fill the column.

Parents, the statement said, had every right to make the decision. However, as most government benefits to students were based on religion, parents would be responsible if any student lost the benefits.

This was needed in writing, and was what the school authorities sought from the parent. However, a propaganda was being unleashed against the school by hiding facts.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 9:16:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/admission-denied-for-not-specifying-religion/article30884081.ece

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