Politics of education

West Bengal government issues notice to shut down 125 schools, claims RSS operates them

Education Minister Partha Chatterjee told the Assembly that many of these schools were teaching students to ‘wield sticks’.

The West Bengal government has issued notices to shut some 125 schools, alleging that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh runs them, The Telegraph reported. The government reportedly received complaints against 500 such schools, 493 of which are under the scanner, Education Minister Partha Chatterjee told the state Assembly on Tuesday.

“We gathered inputs and found that over 125 schools, mostly in north Bengal, did not take any NoC [no-objection certificate] from us,” Chatterjee said. “Yet, they were in operation. We had told them that they cannot [run the schools].”

The minister claimed these schools were teaching students how to wield sticks. “RSS or not RSS, schools have to follow certain norms. Wielding sticks cannot be taught.” The government is looking into each case, he added.

The Vivekananda Vidyavikas Parishad, which runs 12 of the 125 schools that have received the government order, told Mint it has challenged the notice in the Calcutta High Court. The group had applied for government permission in 2012 to run these schools, but the state has not yet cleared the proposal, Vivekananda Vidyavikas Parishad’s organising secretary Tarak Das Sarkar said.

The RSS Secretary in south Bengal, Jisnu Basu, said Chatterjee should visit these schools before trying to close them down. “The schools that he is trying to close are providing students with good education and hygienic atmosphere,” Basu told the Hindustan Times. “The government needs to focus on improving the standard of primary education in Bengal.”

RSS spokesperson Biplab Ray told Mint that it was not his organisation’s duty to run these schools. “The state should pay attention to the madrasas instead and check what they teach.”

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