The school authorities however said that they hadn’t denied admission, but instead asked the parents to give in writing that they didn’t want to fill the religion column.

Kerala couple allege school denied admission to son for not filling religion columnNaseem
news Controversy Friday, February 21, 2020 - 18:02

A school in Thiruvananthapuram allegedly denied admission to a six-year old boy to class one because his parents were unwilling to fill up the religion column in the application form.

Thiruvananthapuram residents Naseem Yacoob and Dhanya are natives of Palode in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram. They had sought admission for their son at St Mary’s School, which is located in Pattom in the city. The child passed initial assessment for admission, and the parents were asked to come back to the school on February 19.

“The school authorities had a problem in giving admission because we didn’t fill in the religion column. They cited some other reasons for not giving admission though. They said that if the religion column isn’t filled up, it will be difficult to process the admission through Sampoorna,” Naseem told TNM. Sampoorna School Management Software was launched by the Kerala government as part of its eGovernance initiatives.

Later, when the couple inquired further, they say they found that admission can be processed through Sampoorna even without filling up the column for religion, which has happened in the past as well.

While Naseem hasn’t lodged a complaint with the Kerala Education Department, he told the media about what allegedly happened. He said that by sharing this story, he wanted the government to give a strong direction to all schools to not discourage parents who don’t want to reveal religion of their children.

“After it became news, one priest associated with the school administration called me and offered admission for my son. However, we don’t want our son to go to the school anymore. We found neither the environment nor the behaviour of the teachers welcoming,” Naseem added.

Run by Major Archdiocese of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in Thiruvananthapuram, St Mary’s School is one of the largest schools in Asia. The 80-year old school has more than 13,000 students.

School refutes allegations

The school management, however, has denied the couple’s allegations. In a media statement, the school said that it didn’t deny admission to the student, but instead asked the parents in writing that they didn’t want to fill the column on religion.

“A parent has complete freedom not to fill the column. But most of the government benefits that are provided to a student are based on religion, and the parents are responsible if a student loses any of the benefits, so we need it in writing. This is what the school demanded from the parent. There was not any kind of provocative action from the school authorities. We had directly communicated to the parents that there was no problem in giving admission to their child,” said a statement issued by the Archdiocese PRO Father Bovas Mathew Melut.

The statement added that it’s painful to engage in propaganda against the school by withholding that the school asked for the parents to give in writing that they didn’t want to fill in the religion section in the form.

However, Naseem told TNM that the school only proposed to give admission if the he and Dhanya provided the written affidavit against revealing religion when he went back to the school after verifying the school’s claims about the Sampoorna software. “Initially, they were hesitant to give admission,” he alleges.

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