Banani School Accused of Forcing Indoctrination of Students
Times of Zambia
April 2, 1998
Lusaka (Times of Zambia, April 2, 1998) - There are mounting allegations that authorities at the Baha'i-run Banani girls international school in Kabwe Rural are forcing pupils to undergo compulsory indoctrination in the Baha'i faith.
Some parents have voiced concern that if the situation was not stopped, fanaticism would creep in and the result to those who believed in other religions would be disastrous. Leading the onslaught on the alleged parochial worshipping imposed by school authorities, Malawian high commissioner to Zambia Emmanuel Chinkwita-Phiri told an annual Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meeting held at the school, that it was a breach of universal human rights to impose a pattern of worship which barred pupils from pursuing their faith. Reverend Phiri, who was elected to serve on the school advisory council, charged that pupils were subjected to Baha'i rituals against their will, and those who resisted were allegedly punished.
The diplomat has a Grade 12 daughter at the school. But principal of the school Michael Richmond countered that he was not aware of any restricted worship on campus. He said what was practised was inter-faith emphasising unity as paramount for justice in the world to prevail. He dispelled reports of emotional insecurity and imagined forces of terror. One camp of parents accused fellow parents of being over-sensitive over the issue because they did not see anything wrong themselves. As the debate was getting heated, one parent, Colonel Cuthbert Sakala, warned that the issue should not be glossed over as the allegations were real. A number of girls interviewed at the school claimed that they were made to embrace the Baha'i faith and engage in Baha'i activities against their will. They said some were recently punished for refusing to watch a film to do with the Baha'i faith. The girls were also admonished for not taking part in a Baha'i festival. Some teachers who declined to be named confirmed the development and suggested parents should meet the principal as the issue was too sensitive to be exhausted in one meeting.
By Bwalya Nondo
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