Distributing a brochure with a "Maths Prayer" and pictures of goddess Saraswathi and "Om" by two teachers of a government school in Kerala has landed them in trouble after their action sparked protests and they were asked to go on leave.
The booklet was distributed on last Friday in the Azhikode government UP school in the suburbs of Thiruvananthapuram, where 80 per cent of students belong to the Muslim community, educational department sources said.
The parents and leaders of some political parties took out a march to the school on Monday and demanded that the two teachers not be allowed to continue in the institution.
The Parents Teachers Association (PTA) also came up with a similar demand following which the Headmaster directed the teachers to go on leave, they said.
The pamphlet was distributed to the students of class fifth to seventh standards as part of the activities of the "Mathematics club" with the instructions to chant the prayers daily, which would help them in learning mathematics.
The 12 line "Maths Prayer" (Ganitha Prarthana) was written by Rajalakshmi, one of the two teachers, who has been asked to go on leave.
Assistant Educational Officer (AEO), Raj Kumar, who visited the school, said a report on the matter would soon be submitted to the Director of General education, along with reports of the PTA and the Headmaster.
"This is a public school. The allegation is that the teachers used religious symbols, which is against the rules", the official said.
"We need to protect the school. We want the support of everyone for the school. There was carelessness on the part of two teachers", he said.
Meanwhile, Rajalakshmi, who wrote the prayer, has filed a police complaint alleging that she had received threats and was harassed on the phone.