Isaac decries Church stand on school affairs

Staff Reporter

Says maintenance of schools is an obligation of local bodies

Attack on Christian institutions will be opposed, says Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhathu

Says the State should do an introspection on its educational policies

Thrissur: Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac has criticised the Church’s campaign against the move to entrust the management of Government/aided schools to panchayats and other local bodies.

Church authorities vehemently opposed the move at a convention to protect the rights of minorities held at the Town Hall here by the Thrissur Archdiocese.

Two hours before the convention, the Minister spoke against the Church stand at a workshop on ‘Study on women’s status’ at the Kerala Institute of Local Administration at Mulankunnathukavu.

“Those who speak about the constitutional rights of minorities should also know about the obligatory functions, powers and responsibilities of municipal bodies. The Constitution states that establishment and maintenance of primary schools are among the obligatory functions of local bodies. The State Government may even give more powers to local bodies for this,” Dr. Isaac said. He cited initiatives of local bodies in Madikkai panchayat and Mararikkulam in the education sector as worthy examples.

He called upon women to launch a State-wide campaign against the Micro Financial Sector (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2007, contending that it would destroy self-help groups such as Kudumbasree.

“Adoption of the development model suggested by the Bill will promote forces of globalisation. The Bill will destroy poverty alleviation programmes, local self-help initiatives and community-devised development structures,” he said.

Earlier, inaugurating the workshop, Local Administration Minister Paloli Mohammed Kutty said the People’s Plan Campaign had improved the status of women in the State.

“We need a comprehensive study of status of women and processes that determine women’s participation in society,” he said.

LDF policies flayed

The convention to campaign for protection of the rights of minorities criticised the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government’s education policy, attacks on educational institutions and the move to entrust management of Government/aided schools to local bodies.

Inaugurating the convention, Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhathu said that members of the community would oppose any attack on Christian institutions.

“The Church faces criticism that it runs educational institutions for the moneyed. A survey conducted by the Catholic Bishop Conference of India’s Commission for Education and Culture reveals that 59.3 per cent of educational institutions run by the Church in the country are located in rural areas. Only 6.9 per cent children from moneyed families study in schools run by the Church. The percentage of students from families the below poverty line is 41.4.”

He alleged that the flawed policies of the LDF Government were retarding the State’s development.

“Where is the State headed? Continual political agitations affect development. Increasing addiction to liquor leads to disintegration of families. The number of cases of suicide and female foeticide is growing. Our educational institutions do not figure in any national list of centres of excellence. It is time for introspection.”

He alleged that the move to entrust management of Government/aided schools to local bodies would lead to politicisation of educational institutions.

He said the Church was not averse to joining hands with Muslims to fight the flawed policies of the LDF Government.

The convention protested against moves to check use of Christian symbols in educational institutions.

Changanassery Archbishop Mar Joseph Perunthottam; Jose Kavungal, Vicar-General of Irinjalakuda; Joseph Chittilappally, Vicar-General of Palakkad; and Raphael Thattil, Vicar-General of Thrissur; were among those present on the occasion.

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