Furore over Jamshedpur school asking students to learn Pakistan, Bangladesh national anthems

A private school in Ghatsila under East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand asking its lower kindergarten (LKG) and under kindergarten (UKG) students to learn and practice national anthems of Pakistan and Bangladesh triggered a furore here on Saturday and Sunday, forcing the school to withdraw the online class curriculum in WhatsApp group with immediate effect, school management said this morning.

The matter came to the fore after BJP state spokespersons Kunal Sarnagi and Pratul Shahdeo twitted the matter to chief minister (CM) Hemant Soren, state education minister, HRD officials, central BJP leaders and East Singhbhum deputy commissioner (DC) on Sunday after many parents protested the move by the school.

The school teacher Shaila Parveen had given home tasks to the UKG and LKG students of Sant Nandlal Smriti Vidya Mandir (SNSVM) to learn and practice national anthems of Pakistan and Bangladesh on July 7 and 8. The teacher also shared the lyrics and YouTube videos of the two national anthems of both the neighbouring countries of India in the school WhatsApp group for the students and parents for the online classes being held in view of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“I did it as per the school management’s direction. The objective was to enhance the general knowledge of the students,” said Shaila Parveen.

East Singhbhum district education officer (DEO) Shivendra Kumar said today they were looking into the matter. “We are issuing show-cause notice to the school authorities to clarify their position. No school can order students to learn and practice national anthems of any other country except India,” said the DEO.

SNSNV principal Sanjay Mallick said today that they have withdrawn both the anthems from the home task list of the students with immediate effect after protests by the guardians. “We apologise to everybody if we have hurt anyone’s feelings or sentiments. “Dear students and teachers of UKG and LKG, Good afternoon. This is to inform you that you need not learn the national symbols and national anthems of any country except India. This is for strict compliance,” the principal’s order read.

“The previous instructions in this regard are cancelled by competent authorities,” the order further stated.

The principal said this was part of a project under International School Awards (ISA) by British Council. “Under the project, students were to be taught the national anthems, symbols, emblems, bird, animal, flag etc of all the neighbouring countries. The UKG and LKG classes were dividing in five groups and five students of a group were given the national anthem of these two countries for general knowledge. We have, however, withdrawn it as soon as we realized the sentiments of the people,” said Mallick.

BJP state spokesperson Kunal Sarangi demanded strict action against the school saying this was absolutely not acceptable at such a tender age. “If action is not taken against the school, this will become a dangerous trend. Are we expecting and will we accept it if schools tomorrow start hoisting the national flag of Pakistan on August 14! At such a tender age, this is absolutely not acceptable. It is an attempt to manipulate young minds,” said Sarangi.

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