Students from an RSS-run group of schools occupied half of the merit list in the Madhya Pradesh matric exams, raising questions over an alleged attempt by the BJP government to promote education based on Hindutva ideology.
At least 17 students from the Saraswati group of schools, including the topper, were among the 34 candidates who found place in the merit list of the class 10 exams, conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education (MPBSE). The Class 10 results in the state were announced on Thursday.
The opposition Congress as well a section of academicians was quick to see a political design in the results, which saw a pass percentage of less than 50. However, it was a slight improvement from last year’s pass percentage of 47.74.
While state joint topper Sandeep Kumar Shah is a student of Saraswati Higher Secondary School in Singrauli, 16 students are from other institutes of the group including Saraswati Shishu Mandir and Saraswati Vidhya Mandir.
Educationist Anil Sadgopal said the presence of 17 students of Saraswati schools in the merit list “cannot be a coincidence”.
“The administration of these schools wants to make a good image in front of public. It is well known that these schools were based on the Hindutva agenda and teach anti-constitutional things to students,” said Sadgopal.
The state Congress also raised questions over the merit list and alleged that the state government “is doing politics over results of innocent children”.
Earlier this year, the BJP government in the state had made ‘surya namaskar’ – adulation of the sun -- mandatory in all schools, raising heckles of opposition parties and social organisations.
Since the BJP came to power at the Centre last year, the human resources development ministry has been embroiled in a slew of controversies amid reports that it is being guided by inputs from its ideological mentor RSS and its student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
The Saraswati group, however, said that the curriculum of its schools are based on Indian culture and the students are more focused on their studies.
“In our schools all the students maintain brother-sister relation. They address their classmates as ‘bhaiya’ and ‘behan’ which help them not to get diverted from studies,” said Ram Bhavsar, the head of Madhya Bharat unit of Saraswati Shiksha Parishad.
Bhavsar added students learn yoga and meditation which helps in improving concentration and makes them disciplined.
MPBSE chairman SR Mohanty too brushed aside the allegations of bias.
“Merit list has meritorious students on it. A student who studies hard makes it to the merit list. MPBSE is a transparent body. Also, the teachers who evaluate examination copies don’t know at all as to which school the students belong to,” he added.