Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Delegation Brings Teachers' Woes to Minister

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Delegation Brings Teachers' Woes to Minister

Article excerpt

A church delegation met the chief minister of Jharkhand to raise problems minority schools face in this eastern Indian state.

Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Barwa of Ranchi, who led the seven-member delegation that met March 20 with Chief Minister Arjun Munda, alleges the state government has adopted a "step-motherly" attitude toward minority schools.

Three Catholic priests, a religious brother, a religious sister and a Hindu teacher at a Catholic school formed the rest of the delegation. Sudhir Mahto, opposition leader in the state legislative assembly, accompanied them to the chief minister's residence in Ranchi.

Munda is a member of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people's party), which has led a coalition government that has ruled Jharkhand since it was carved out of Bihar state in 2000.

Barwa said the delegation told Munda the state has ignored the problems of educational institutions managed by linguistic and religious minorities. These groups, Christians and Muslims among them, manage 135 high schools and more than 1,000 middle schools in the state. The delegation told Munda the government has not paid retirement benefits to teachers of these schools since November 2004.

Jesuit Fr. Erentius Mini, president of Jharkhand Minority Secondary Teachers' Association and a delegation member, told UCA News March 21 that the schools have received no formal notice denying the benefits.

Additionally, the government has refused to grant minority status to several schools the church and other groups have opened in the past two decades. …

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