Parents of the Islamic International School, Mazgaon, founded by controversial preacher Zakir Naik, who is under investigation, have threatened legal action if the school is taken away from the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and handed over to another organisation.
The school’s parents-teachers association (PTA) wrote to education minister Vinod Tawde on Thursday, opposing the proposed change in management. They demanded time until April-May — when the academic year ends — to decide the school’s fate.
The petition was a response to education officials on Monday asking parents to withdraw their children from the school because it does not have the required permits.
Tawde has given students a choice between shutting down the school altogether or handing over its management to a trust like Anjuman-i-Islam, which runs 100 educational institutes in Maharashtra.
But parents are worried the studies will be disrupted if the department shuts the school or changes management mid-term. “Both these actions will disturb our children’s education. We will move court challenging the government’s decision,” said Mustafa Shaikh, a parent, whose three children study in the school.
Parents complained the government is targeting them. “There are hundreds of schools that don’t have registrations or NOC from the government, but only our school is facing action,” said Mouzan Armar, another parent from Tardeo.
Armar said handing over the school to another Muslim management will not assure the same quality of education. “We chose this school because of its management. If the management changes, we won’t want to continue with the school,” said Armar.
School principal Imran Qureshi said even though parents might be looking for other schools, they have not received any applications for withdrawal yet. “It will be a cultural shock for students to shift to other schools,” said Qureshi.
Meanwhile, Zahir Kazi, president of Anjuman-I-Islam, said they are open to acquiring the school if the government approaches them. “As of now, the department hasn’t asked us anything. We have a lot of experience in running educational institutes so the quality won’t be compromised,” said Kazi.