Tuesday, 24 November, 2020

The bishops demand protection for the rights of Christian educational institutions that run 5,000 of the 13,000 schools in the state.

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Kerala – India (23/10/2020, Gaudium Press) Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, Bishop of Mavelikkara, president of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education of Kerala, Bishop Paul Antony Mullassery, Bishop of Kollam and Vice President of the Commission for Catholic Education, and Bishop Thomas Tharayil, auxiliary bishop of Changanassery, held a hunger strike last Tuesday outside the Kerala State Secretariat in India. They were demanding the fulfilment of constitutional rights due to Christian educational institutions.

Two Catholic officials joined the Bishops’ strike to draw public opinion to government interference in institutions’ management.

Bishop of Trivandrum: “no special favour is asked of the State;” just that “our constitutional rights be protected.”

Archbishop Maria Calist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum noted that the goal was not to ask a “special favour of the State,” but to ask that “our constitutional rights be protected.”

The Christian churches run about 5,000 schools out of the 13,000 in the state. More than half are entitled to government funding to pay the salaries of a certain number of teachers.

For the past five years, more than 3,000 teachers in schools administered by the Church have not been paid, added Arch. Pakiam, denouncing it as an “act of cruelty,” especially in times of pandemic.

The bishops demand that the Christian educational institutions’ rights that run 5,000 of the 13,000 schools in the state be protected.

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The government wants to interfere in the nomination of schools directed by the Church

Fr. Charles Leon, secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, representing 32 dioceses of the state, reported that the government has tried to interfere in teachers’ appointment. The interference is seeking “to acquire the right to appoint 50% of teaching staff in schools run by the Church and other schools run by minorities,” in violation of constitutional provisions. (JSG)

(Photo: Vatican News Service and LaCroix)

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