Gujarat State Legislative Assembly in India has passed Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Amendment Bill 2021.
The amendment means that the state government now makes it mandatory for minority institutions to appoint principals and teachers who have been cleared by the government run teachers’ aptitude test (TAT) only – effectively meaning that the State Government now hires and fires school staff including those run by Christian organisations.
This presents challenges for Church run schools in Gujarat and its possible ramification for Christian schools in the rest of India This development in India brings into sharp focus the potential dangers posed by anti-discrimination laws to the religious fundamentals of Christian run schools around the world. That is the delicate line between the state and the church that we are looking at.
The original Act, the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Act of 1972, had exempted minority institutions based on religion and language from provisions of the Act that lay down qualifications, methods of selection and conditions of appointment, promotion and termination of employment and rules for conduct and discipline of the headmaster and the teaching and non-teaching staff of registered private secondary schools.
This is what this new amended act is changing. It is essentially taking over the running of private institutions which before now the government had no jurisdiction over. The government, in passing this amended act said that the current centralised recruitment process in government and grant-in-aid schools is followed but in private or so-called minority schools candidates’ selection ignores the importance of the aptitude test exams.
This is said to affect the appointment of quality teachers and principals in the self-governing schools.