The Bihar government has directed all 80,000 state-run schools to hold the daily rendering of school prayers and the state song using loudspeakers.
In a letter issued to all district education officers (DEOs) and district programme officers (DPOs) on Thursday, principal secretary, education, R K Mahajan stated, “…it has been decided to hold Chetna Satra/ Prarthna Sabha in all primary, middle and senior secondary schools through loudspeakers for qualititative running of the schools.”
The letter mentioned that all schools would have to sing the school prayer — “Tu hi Ram hai Rahim hai” and state song — “Meri raftaar pe suraj ki kiran raaj kare, aesi parwaaj de malik ki gagan raaj kare”.
The letter also says that lessons on moral values, inspiring anecdotes and newspaper reading should also be included in the prayer session. The school would dismiss after mandatory singing of the national anthem. This is the first time the state government has issued such an order.
A school will have to arrange for loudspeakers with funds provided by the state government under the school development fund. Under the system, each school will get funds ranging from Rs 12,500 to Rs 1 lakh, depending on the number of students.
The principal secretary wanted all schools to purchase the loudspeakers by Friday. Most schools, however, have either not received the order or have not been able to purchase loudspeakers.
On the need of loudspeakers for prayers, Mahajan said, “School prayer session has to be done on loudspeakers so that we can create an ambience to inspire students and their guardians strictly value the commencement of classes.”
Bihar Madhyamik Sikshak Sangh general secretary and former MP Shatrughan Prasad Singh told The Indian Express, “The order for mandatory use of loudspeakers is a pure waste of state exchequer and a deliberate bid to advertise the prayer session. Loudspeakers would only add to noise pollution. School is a place where peace and tranquility should prevail.”