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Are there Christian children in Christian schools? 

By Nithiya Sagayam

This is in response to the news that in Uttar Pradesh some Hindu groups have ordered not to celebrate Christmas in Christian schools.

At the outset let me share the anxiety of school principals, heads of schools, provincials of various Catholic religious orders, and other duty bearers in this time of unwanted threats and problems in India.

Most of our Christian schools are committed to discipline, orderliness, and standard with principles and deep values in life. All these are truly praiseworthy. But are these wonderful gifts and graces available to most of our Christians who live in rural areas and slums?

Let’s not forget that more than 70 percent Christians are living in villages. But in the past 25 years, almost 80 percent of all the newly constructed schools are all focused on towns and cities. Most principals and headmasters (priests and nuns) of these posh English medium schools once studied in local medium in their villages. Most priests and nuns of this country are all from rural villages.

Maybe they may have forgetten their own roots. Many priests and nuns face the great temptation to work or stay only in towns and cities. The family visits and visiting the sick and the people in the village huts have become something of the past – mostly found in foreign missionaries.

Most of our city and town educational institutions are matriculation schools or the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (ICSE) schools. They are run by religious congregations which pronounce in their charism that they are called to serve the poor and the deprived. They profess that they have a special option for the poor. But when it comes to running schools, it is just business. Some priests and nuns seem to use any means to get some post in such schools.

Just a few years back, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) had come out with Educational Policy of the Church in India. Unfortunately, there is no monitoring body either in dioceses or in religious congregations to check if these schools follow the stipulations given in that policy document.

It is time the owners (often Catholic dioceses or Religious Congregations) of the Christian schools had a conscious reflection about their mission (their original purpose for running schools), as most of these schools today cater to the rich children who are not Christians. Some parents of these children are also hardcore Hindu fundamentalists. As a result they show their color – be it parents or outsiders – by such diktats that no Christmas in Christian schools. Gradually they will also say that Christian schools should have no chapel or they should have prayers by the priests and nuns in the school campus. Where are we heading to now?

Most of our English medium schools have denied admission to several Catholic children citing their poverty. It is the time the bishops and provincials of these groups went in for a critical evaluation of these schools and their beneficiaries. What is the percentage of the Christians in the Christian schools?

What is the percentage of local Christian teachers in these schools or they imports from other states? What is the percentage of Below Poverty Line (BPL) Christian children studying in these schools? How are these poor Christian children given special attention with regard to their fees? How do do these schools ensure the Christian children’s faith formation and foster contacts with their parents?

We are at a crucial time. Danger signals are coming one by one. When will we ever learn? Probably the CBCI and Conference of Religious India (CRI) need to take up this growing threat seriously and respond.

The true Christianity in India lives in villages. It is time we focused on these roots again with full vigor.

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4 Responses to Are there Christian children in Christian schools?


    I am surprised at the response of Sunny Jacob. My comments are not new nor reaction to the activities of some fanatical groups but a review of the growing trend and focus on the present day educational ministries. It is not a superficial criticism nor written out of ignorance. In fact while we took up this theme, some bishops who came to the CBCI Centre commented that the CBCI was the first among the Episcopal conferences to address the issue of the education of the marginalised as an Episcopal Body.

    The monitoring mechanism that was originally proposed at the CBCI General Body meeting on the Education of the Marginalised (The actual title of the Assembly!) was not a nationwide reivew of the situation but annual local monitoring of the admission of Christian children in Catholic Schools. The proposal was to have a team in every diocese and Province to ensure that the Poor christian children are not denied admission in our schools.

    It is not uncommon that good number of Christian children are rejected in our English medium schools in preference to non christian children with various reasons.

    We have enough and more schools to educate all the Christian children in the country. If our Christian schools were to admit all the Christian children all these years, by now, there would not be any illiteracy among Christians in the country.

  2. Thankapan vaidhyar

    Sunny jacob sounds like a paid personal of corporate, for school business. Good play of language … looks like an intelligent information. But never we found such datas sharing to catholics in common to build up our church in India and new methods in mission add gentus.
    The reporter seems to support Catholic Church in India from its titanic hit and mr Sunny seems to be from a corporate world to safeguard the school business in the name of church, the best market brand in India.

    One should remember, from the inception of the church, Christians were not worried about persecution and martyrdom. it is high time to preach Christ to India where millions are not even heard name of Jesus. The modern missionary schools in general are parallel with any secular and radical group’s school. Same brand name is common (they too name it ‘convent school’, no body yet legally challenged it though there are special intelligence groups priest for education apostolate). Church’s school business has proved its zenith of anti-witness of Christianity. Ambitious nuns and priests criminally intrude into this sector by gaining some B.ed without any experience (neither human nor divine wisdom) and sit in the position of the heads of the schools by miss-using minority rights of the country backed up by Generals and bishops and provincials.
    Sunny must know Catholic Church is not against any culture (Cardinal in Kerala using Rudraksha belongs to Shaivism a good item for good health) heritage, national unity etc.
    And church is not enemy of any noble cause without loosing its purity and official teachings, inculturate in the process of Christianising or giving light to the dark areas of the human persons.

    It has been proved by missionaries of Indian origin, Simplicity of Christianity, is unable to be given by posh English medium schools.
    Now church official wings are making huge amount of time and energy in safeguarding corporate world, which is unchristian, and against poverty of Jesus of manger. In the past decades missionaries in India waisted huge time and energy in schools perverting from its true mission.
    From Vatican or from Indian bishops together should make radical step to instruct the priests and nuns congressions to withdraw from the posts not belonging to their basic charism (it will be better before radicals throw every one out- church has done such radical step when Paedophilic priests increased in church, dismissed 3000 culprit priests, after proper studies in 2010.)
    How can sisters of destitute earn money and work in school when huge number of slum dwellers are in huts and old age people and woman are in orphan situation? How can MCBS and SABS (sisters of adoration of the blessed sacrament) can work in hectic schedule of school when church in India lack people for intercession for dioceses and other people in charism working in the country? Same manner how many congressions are perverted in this kind of mission. ….
    Let SJs and don bosco like congregations who has more than a century experience in educational apostolate continue as they have track for it. The congregations Lack the experience in this field Will be cracks… Spoil the church.. Nobody will find the real culprits.

  3. Thankapan vaidhyar

    It is ideology!!!
    The money making principals will take the Christian students in Catholic school after the pressure of church documents and after a pose the child will be quicken out telling child is not good stuent….if the missionary schools are running for the most brilliant and morally we’ll balanced family, students, why it is called missionary or minority school at all?
    To correct Catholic school sytem, it might take another 50 years. Otherwise there should be tsunami in all provincial houses as a cures of their negligence.

  4. chhotebhai

    Nice to see this report. Some years ago in a dialogue meeting between the AICU-CBCI I had submitted data gleaned from various Catholic Directories published by them to prove that 3 out of 4 Catholics (age group 3 -21) are not studying in Catholic institutions. The bishops remained in denial mode.

    As for U.P., hardly 2% of the students in Catholic schools are Catholic! Normally no religious instruction is imparted to them either. So how do they qualify as Catholic institutions or Minority ones protected under the Constitution of India?

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