Mumbai: One of the hotly debated issues in the education committee meeting on Monday was that of making Surya namaskar compulsory in BMC schools.

Noorjahan Shaikh, an education committee member and corporator from Baiganwadi said, “There are 400 Urdu-medium schools under BMC.

We Muslims can only pray to Allah and cannot take darshan of any other deity. By passing this proposal for Surya namaskar, the BMC is forcing it on our community.” She demanded

that the proposal be revoked.

Another Muslim corporator called the move a misuse of power. “144 BMC schools have closed between 2000 and 2016. There are children dropping out and enrolment is low,” he said and warned that schools will be empty with Muslims pulling their children out of BMC schools if compelled in this manner.

Members questioned if Surya namaskar formed part of the educational curriculum. At the same time, some committee members justified introducing the practice by saying that 117 countries practised yoga.

Shivnath Darade of BJP said, “Some people oppose everything – from singing Vande Mataram  to saying ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. This kind of opposition is not good.”

Some supported the opposing members on not making Surya namaskar compulsory and said that it could be made optional.

Education committee chairperson Hemangi Worlikar said the matter will be decided upon by the Commissioner.

On another issue though, there was agreement among committee members – that of appointment of clerks in the civic body schools. Members demanded that a clerk be appointed to do all the administrative work in each school so that teachers can concentrate on their main duty of teaching.

“There are schools which have as many as 6,500 children, at least where there are more children, there must be a clerk,” a committee member said.

When Education Officer Mahesh Palkar said that as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act there is no provision to appoint clerks, committee members argued that the Act does not prohibit such appointments either.

“If there is no provision, it doesn’t mean there is no requirement. Can a clerk become a teacher? Then why the other way round,” a woman member questioned.

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