Education minister assures government will ensure safe reopening of Catholic schools

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IMPHAL, April 9: Education Minister Moirangthem Okendro on Thursday made a fervent appeal to all concerned not to commit any kind of act that could alter the academic atmosphere in the educational institutes in the state. He instead called upon one and all to make education a `Disturbance Free Zone`™.

The Minister`™s appeal came in the backdrop of an armed outfit imposing an indefinite ban on Catholic schools based in the state.

Following request from the Catholic Educational Society, Manipur, parents of students reading in these schools had a special meeting regarding the unfortunate development at the office of the Education Minister at Secretariat North Block this evening around 4.

The meeting chaired by the Education Minister was attended by P Vaiphei, Link Commissioner of Education (S); Deputy Commissioner (DC) Imphal West; Superintendent of Police (SP) Imphal West; Md Abdussalam, Joint Secretary of Education (S); N Praveen Singh, Director of Education (S) and H Mathang Singh, Deputy Secretary of Education (S). Representatives of Catholic Educational Society and father/sister of the catholic schools were also present.

During the meeting, representatives of Catholic Educational Society were allowed to explain their sorry plight. There, they disclosed that the proscribed KCP (MC) demanded 15 percent reservation of the total seats in all the private schools, for poor students.

They admitted that the schools were shut down following direction given by the outfit through the media as their demand was not fulfilled.

Unhappy with the closure of the schools, Minister Okendro asked the representatives whether the Catholic schools should be closed whenever any individual or organization says so through the media.

The Minister said that the society should consult with the government on any matter and asked the representatives what kind of help the Catholic society wants from the government.

Assuring the society the government will extend all possible help whenever they face any problem, Okendro hailed the Catholic schools for their immense contribution towards education sector in the state.

Other government officials who were present at the meeting held a threadbare discussion with the representatives of the society.

The officials asked the representatives how they are being threatened by the armed outfit and why the schools have failed to serve an open clarification in this regard.

Responding to the query, the representatives said that the threat was served by the outfit to PRO of the society, van drivers and the media.

They also clarified that the schools were closed down considering dire consequences which students and van drivers could face following the threat served.

After much deliberation, a committee was formed with DC Imphal West and Director of Education (S) as its Chairman and Member Secretary respectively. SP Imphal West and Secretary of Board of Secondary Education Manipur (BSEM) have been also appointed as Members of the committee. First sitting of the committee will be held on April 10.

The committee will seek comments from certain individuals after which a report will be submitted to the government before April 10, they said.

Based on the report, the government assured it will take a firm decision to ensure safe resumption of classes in all the Catholic schools at the earliest, the society said.

The government has decided to frame an Admission Policy both for private and government schools to counter such threats from next year, the Minister told the society.

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