Though West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been at loggerheads with the BJP-led NDA government over demonetisation and the crackdown on MPs over the chit fund scams, the State government has ensured that more than a dozen Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-run schools have been granted affiliation in the last year.
These schools are run by the Vivekananda Vidyavikash Parishad (VVP) with a objective of creating “Hindu mindset” among the students.
The VVP is the Bengal chapter of the Vidya Bharti Akhil Bhartiya Siksha Sansthan, an RSS-affiliated organisation. The organisation’s website clearly states that its primary objective is to establish an education system which will create a generation of “youths with a Hindu mindset.”
“Our aim is to develop an ideal education system which will create a generation of youths who will have Hindu mindset along with well developed spiritual outlook,” states the website of VVP.
Speaking to The Hindu, the organisational secretary of the VPP, Tarak Das Sarkar, an RSS pracharak, said, “All of our schools received State government affiliation after 2011 (when TMC came to power in Bengal).”
Mr Sarkar was quick to stress that, “We have followed due procedures to get the affiliations. There is no politics behind it.”
In 2016 while eight schools (upto class VIII) and two schools (upto class X) run by the VVP have been given permanent affiliation by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE), 15 primary schools were issued provisional affiliation by the West Bengal Board of Primary Education. As a result these schools will now be able to receive the grants under the Centre’s Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scheme as well as facilities such as free text books and mid day meal from the WBBSE. They would also be eligible for no objection certificates from the State’s Education Department for being upgraded to Secondary Schools under the WBBSE. However, as per the provisions of the affiliation these schools will not get any financial aid from the State government.
According to VVP authorities, the organisation currently runs 326 schools in Bengal up from 314 in 2015. As on December 2016, the number of students at these schools stood at 74,996, an increase of 23.87 % since 2015, VPP authorities said. They also said the schools which recently got government affiliation are located in the districts of Paschim Medinipur, Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and Cooch Behar.
Even as State BJP president Dilip Ghosh criticised the TMC government for “failing to create proper education infrastructure” in Bengal, he welcomed the development as a “positive step.”
“I think they (TMC government) have taken a positive step in giving affiliation to these schools. Since the State government has failed to improve the standard of education in Bengal, they are left with no choice but to give affiliation to these schools,” Mr. Ghosh said.