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Kerala govt, Church at loggerheads over education


Naveen Nair,CNN-IBN
Jul 20, 2007 at 10:18pm IST

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Thiruvananthapuram: The ruling CPI-M in Kerala seems to be heading for a conflict with the Catholic Church over its educational policy.

“The Church knows how to its autonomy and administration,” says Major Archbishop, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, Baselios Cleemis Catholicos.

The Church says the communists are trying to take over their educational institutions and are anti-minority in nature. Pastoral letters have already been issued by Bishops across the state, and there is even talk of setting up vigilante groups.

“The crisis in the educational field in Kerala is mainly caused due to the unnecessary intervention of political leaders,” says Bishop of Thrissur, Major Arch Bishop Andrews Thazhathu.

It was the move to regulate the fees at Church-run self-financing colleges that caused heartburn initially. The Catholic Church now claims the government wants to bring church-governed schools under the control of local panchayats. But the state government rubbishes all such claims.

“The LDF government would be on the forefront in defence of the rights of the minorities. But at the same time in the name of protecting minority interest, if something unethical in the field of education happens, for example, taking of capitation fee, then government will deal with that situation with an iron hand,” says Education Minister, Government of Kerala, M A Baby.

Neither the church nor the LDF government will like to have an open confrontation on this issue. But with both the sides playing pressure tactics, it perhaps will snowball into a major conflict in the coming days, which does not argue well for the educational system in Kerala.

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