‘Vande Mataram’ lands Nepal school in trouble

May 15th, 2008 - 11:55 am ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 15 (IANS) In the 1940s, when India was battling for independence from British rule, the British government banned “Vande Mataram”, which was the source of inspiration of thousands of Indian freedom fighters. Now, the song has raised the ire of Nepal’s former Moaist guerrillas who are set to head a new government. The powerful student wing of the Maoists, backed by the student unit of their traditional rivals - the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist - has given a school in east Nepal, located on the Indo-Nepal border, seven days to close down for allegedly teaching students the song, written by one of India’s best-known authors, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.

The two student unions have warned the Delhi Public School in Biratnagar, which happens to be Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s home town, that if it did not shut down within a week, they would force its closure from Monday.

According to a statement by the unions, the school, promoted by some of Nepal’s well-known business groups, has been running classes in gross violation of Nepal’s education laws.

It says that though the school registered itself last year as Gurukul Society and had permission to conduct classes up to the fifth standard, it has been running classes till the seventh standard under the name of Delhi Public School.

Only select schools, that are under the aegis of different foreign embassies, like India’s Kendriya Vidyalaya, have the permission to teach the curriculum of other education boards. The rest have to teach the curriculum endorsed by the Curriculum Development Board under Nepal’s Ministry of Education and Sports.

However, the controversial school, according to the two unions, has been teaching according to the Indian curriculum, which includes Indian history and culture, without authorisation.

The Maoist student union began opposing the school after it was brought to its notice that the students were taught to sing “Vande Mataram” and the textbooks were the same as those used in Indian schools.

The union is also opposing the hiring of Indian teachers by the school.

“It is an attack on Nepal’s nationalism,” said Namita Neupane, a central committee member of the Maoist student union. “The school should close immediately.”

The student unions have organised two rounds of public interactions, where district education officials were also called, in order to pressurise the authorities into taking action against the school.

In the past, Maoists had also threatened to stop the screening of Hindi films in Nepal, saying they were an instrument to propagate Indian culture.

The Maoists, who emerged as the largest party in the April 10 election, are proposing a state takeover of all private schools in Nepal.

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