Friday, January 24, 2014

Government plays politics with primary education

Government plays politics with primary education

TNN Jan 23, 2014, 04.14AM IST

PANAJI: With just months to go for the Lok Sabha elections, chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who also holds the education portfolio, announced a please all medium of instruction (MoI) policy to be implemented from the next academic year, giving minority institutions grants and making Konkani or Marathi compulsory in all schools till class X.
National language Hindi is no longer compulsory, but a proposal is with the government which may offer Hindi as a third language choice along with Sanskrit and a few other Indian and foreign languages.
The state cabinet on Wednesday decided not to disturb the present MoI setup and approved a policy that allows only minority institutions with MoI as English in the primary section to be eligible for government grants. Non-minority schools with MoI as English will not be given grants. The chief minister was clear that only schools defined as minority under Article 13 of the Indian Constitution would be allowed to opt for the English medium and be eligible for grants.
The policy also makes the teaching of Konkani or Marathi compulsory in all schools till Class X, and the government will provide bi-lingual books in schools that will opt for English as MoI. No new schools will be permitted at the primary level until mapping of schools is completed and admissions shall be based on the neighborhood concept.
Educationists say the MoI policy is not too different from the one announced by former chief minister Digambar Kamat in early 2011 and which was strongly opposed by BJP. Speaking to TOI, Kamat said, "If grants are being given to minority institutions having English as the MoI, then prima facie the policy appears to be the same as the one my government had implemented."
The new MoI policy classifies primary schools into three categories-those that impart education up to Class IV in Konkani or Marathi medium or any other language listed under the VIII Schedule of the Constitution (subject to approval of government) with one subjects as English; minority institutions and schools imparting education at primary level in English.
The policy states that any school listed in the first category will be permitted to reclassify or migrate to Konkani or Marathi. Any scheme for promotion of teaching Konkani or Marathi in schools shall be applicable to schools in all categories but any scheme for improvement of English skills at primary level shall be applicable to those primary schools listed in the first category.
The cabinet also decided that schools, other than Konkani and Marathi medium schools, shall teach Konkani or Marathi as a subject from Class V to Class X. This decision is applicable to schools under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Certificate for Secondary Education (ICSE).
Parrikar said, "One thing we have noticed is that learning mother tongue till Class IV doesn't give the child proficiency in the language, hence we have made Konkani or Marathi till Class X compulsory in all schools."
The chief minister made it clear that there will be no charity on the compulsory Konkani/Marathi implementation in Class IX and X as Goa board has proposed to give a choice to students to drop the third language for a vocational subject. Parrikar said that there is no rule that Hindi should be taught in schools. Under the new policy, Hindi will be the third language and Konkani/Marathi will be the second language.
"The 24% (21,900) of students now studying in 139 unaided schools in Goa will have to learn either Konkani or Marathi," Parrikar said and added that this will strengthen the mother tongue. The cabinet left the choice of Konkani or Marathi to schools.
Parrikar said he has fulfilled 90% of the MoI demands that BJP was fighting. "If I implement what I want to do then people will call me arrogant. In a democracy people's views have to be taken into consideration but at the same time I have strengthened Konkani and Marathi," Parrikar said.
"Democratic difficulties sometimes put restriction on policy implementation. I agree I have given some concessions," Parrikar said.
He said the government will start an additional batch of DEd in Konkani and will start BEd in Konkani provided permissions are granted to avoid shortage of Konkani teachers. He said that if required English teachers would be provided in Konkani and Marathi medium schools to improve the quality of English education in those schools.
Parrikar said that given the metropolitan nature of the state, the importance of English cannot be overlooked, and wherever English has to adopted it should be through books and teaching bilingually.
Deputy chief minister Francis D'Souza, PWD minister Ramkrishna 'Sudin' Dhavalikar, environment minister Alina Saldanha, fisheries minister Avertano Furtado and health minister Laxmikant Parsekar were present when Parrikar made the announcement.

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