The local chapter of the Nationalist Congress Party organised a protest on behalf of parents whose children were excluded from the Holy Cross High School in Kurla. The latter had cut enrolment in its kindergarten programme to uphold state regulations.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A Catholic school in Kurla, Mumbai, claims to have received threats and pressure to enrol some students, even though the period for online registration is over.
The educational facility in question is the Holy Cross High School and the threats it received came from the local chapter of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Chandivali.
Last Friday, some members of the party organised a protest at the school, complaining that the registrations were arbitrarily done.
For its part, the school administration complains that the party hired "promoters" and private "agents" to help parents enrol their children for a hefty fee.
What is more, “The group organized a morcha (protest) without a police permit,” principal Fr Nobert D’Souza said. “For unknown reasons, the police allowed the crowd to enter my office."
The priest explains that the dispute concerns the kindergarten. "Enrolment has been done online for at least three years. The online system is correct. Payment is also done via the internet. No one handles money and everything is done transparently."
The principal complains that some police officers tried to put pressure on the school to please some politicians. The school, he explains, has existed for 118 years and was the first to be recognised by the Maharashtra International Education Board.
"I want to point out that some students were excluded for lack of places. We have considered the proportion of the student-teacher in accordance with government regulations.”
According to attorney Vivian D’Souza, the principal, who is new in this position, became the object of local anger because he enforced the rules, which limit divisions to 40-45 pupils. Previous principals had given in to political pressure, allowing 92 students per division.
Chandivali NCP president Babu Bateli said he organised the protest because the school “handed out 3,000 forms but enrolled only 200 students".
According to Kailash Agwane, another party member, "the school put out a list of enrolled students without specifying the criteria for selection. Then when the parents went to talk to the administration for explanations, nobody wanted to talk to them."
In a statement on the school website, Fr D’Souza writes: “We still fear that similar actions will occur in the coming days. We ask all parishioners, parents and students to pray so that no untoward incident occurs. We ask everyone for moral support."
Finally, the principal explains that the school reduced the student-to-class ratio to maintain a high level of education.