KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – The Coadjutor Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata led a 16-member delegation of West Bengal Association of Christian Schools (WBACS), to meet with Minister for School and Higher Education, Shri Bratya Basu, 15th September.
The very first meeting with the new minister held at 3.30 pm in Bikash Bhavan included eminent leaders of Christian community like Bishop Brajan Malakar of Barackpore, Member of Parliament Mr. Derek O’Brien, Member of Legislative Assembly Mr. Michael Shane Calvert, Vice-chairperson Paschimbango Minority Commission Prof. Maria Fernandes, Padmashri Awardee Sr Cyril Mooney IBVM, WBCAS Secretary Fr. Moloy D’Costa and others.
After a cordial round of pleasantries, Mr. Obrien introduced the delegation to the Minister and Archbishop D’Souza submitted a Memorandum of long-standing grievances of the Christian Minority Schools in Paschimbango. The grievances clubbed under four main headings included: 1) Undue interference in the Recruitment of Staff, 2) Discrimination in granting Recognition & Govt. Aid, 3) Injustice to Primary Teachers of Christian schools, and 4) Mid-day meal &free text books to the students of our village schools most of whom are poor SC/ST and OBC children.
Fr. Moloy, Mr. Calvert and Bishop Malakar pitched in to clarify problems and suggest possible solutions.
“The most urgent need is that of granting exemption from following the State Reservation Rules as per 100-Point Roster for appointment of staff in our schools,” pointed out Fr. K.T. Thomas SDB who drafted the memorandum.
Fr. Thomas insisted that, “in keeping with: i) the Constitutional Rights of the Minorities, ii) the Supreme Court Orders (latest being the Order dated 8th July 2010) clearly exempting the Minorities from the purview of State Reservation Rules, and iii) the state Govt. Order No.942-MD dated 30.6.2008 clause V No.1 (which states that “Reservation Policy for SC and ST and OBCs shall not apply in recruitment of teachers and staff in Minority Educational Institutions”).
The Minister gave a patient hearing and promised to make a careful study of the grievances. He requested the Association to form a core team of 3 or 4 members to meet with his Secretary after 4 or 5 days, and keep him briefed on all issues in detail.
The Minister also assured the delegation of his continued cooperation in arriving at a speedy and acceptable solution to the long standing problems faced by the Christian Minority Schools in the state.
The Christian Missionary Schools in Paschimbanga number some 1,300. Of these over 250 are aided schools, some 150 DA- getting schools, and more than 900 are unaided schools.