Ethics class for non-Christians invites parents’ wrath

via Pioneer News Service | Thrissur published on July 29, 2008

Even as the Catholic Church in the State is continuing with its intense agitation against the alleged efforts of the CPI(M)-led LDF Government to train young students in communism and atheism, instructors at a Church-run school in Thrissur district were taken to task by the guardians of some of the non-Christian students for conducting religious training sessions in the schools.

Parents and guardians of some of the non-Christian students of the St Pius X Convent Upper Primary School, Wadakanachery in the district barged into a hall in the school on Tuesday while the so-called “moral lessons class” was going on. The guardians demanded immediate stoppage of the practice and the school authorities were forced to suspend the class with a weak justification that the class was intended only for boosting the moral value level of the kids.

Students said that the management of the school, the St Pius X Convent, had been conducting the religious classes through joint sessions of students from several divisions, right from the start of this academic year. The school is one of the most prestigious educational institutions of the Thrissur Archdiocese of the Catholic Church.

The guardians of the students rushed to the class when the religious studies session was going on. They said that their wards used to tell them about the Christian theological lessons they were being taught at these sessions and that they used to be forced to learn Christian devotional songs. The classes were being held in a large hall where hundreds of kids sat and the instructor would use a public address system to take lessons.

Students said that they had felt several times that the religious classes were being treated as far more important than the lessons in the curriculum in the school. They also said that they used to be punished for not properly following the classes given in Christian theology.

Some students even said that they had been punished severely for refusing to attend the “moral lessons sessions”. Some of the guardians who reached the school on Tuesday said that they got the information from parents belonging to Christian community.

“There is dissent even in among the Christians against this practice of the nuns at this convent school. Christian parents have told me that the classes were continuing despite their advice to nuns and the local parish priest not to invite trouble with the practice. But they have been continuing with these classes,” said a parent.

The parents had demanded immediate suspension of the theology class, leading to verbal confrontations. Damage to some property, like a piano, was reported. The police had to be called in. The issue was settled after the school authorities assured that the practice would not continue but parents feared that the management could now turn against the students who reported the matter to the parents.

There have been several complaints against the school management’s overt religious practices inside the campus for quite sometime now. “They have been making students sing devotional songs with Christian all the way during the morning assembly. This too was being done over a public address system. We had tried to take up the issue with the management in the past but they used to justify it on technical grounds, saying there are no Christian names or terms used in it. But these moral science lessons are nothing but Christian theology classes,” said a parent, who got on to the platform of the instructor in the hall and took possession of the mike forcibly.

Parents complained that the entire campus of St Pius X Convent School looked like that of a Christian Church despite the fact that the school infrastructure was developed with the grant received from the Government. “There are already two big statues of saints in the small school compound and the nuns used to scold even Hindu and Muslim students for not praying before the statues everyday,” said the parent.

The school management denied the allegations, saying the school was conducting only special value-awareness classes, but they refused to respond when asked whether this formed part of the curriculum. 

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