It's Grants-in-aid, not MoI

By Prabhakar Timble
28 January 2014 03:51 IST

The Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has finally laid to rest the uncertainty and insecurity on the issue of grants-in-aid to English medium primary schools established and administered by the Diocesan Society of Education (DSE & ABE). The Chief Minister confirmed and accepted the grants policy of the earlier Congress government which was opposed tooth and nail whilst BJP was in opposition. The BJP party also roped in the RSS to form a front christened as “Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch’ (BBSM) which coordinated the street agitation. Manohar Parrikar also motivated educationists with close affiliation to the Sangh Parivar to file a petition before the High Court challenging the grants policy of the Congress government. This intervention in the High Court was hurriedly withdrawn after Manohar Parrikar assumed power.

I wish to underscore that the BJP government has announced a grants-in-aid policy for English-medium primary educational institutions. It is in no way a medium of instruction policy at primary level. At the most, what the government has declared is that it does not have a medium of instruction policy at the primary level.  According to the government, the medium of instruction at primary level can be any medium. If it is an English medium primary school, the eligibility for grants is that the school should be run by Diocesan Society of Education (DSE), anybody other than the minority management is ineligible for grants. Introduction of the word “minority” is a brain wave of Manohar Parrikar, despite the fact that no minority group has come forward with such a demand which is likely to fan passions and emotions. This is a weak policy which may not stand the test of law. Even unaided primary schools in English medium will not be allowed till the government completes the mapping. It is clear that the BJP government does not have willingness, ability and spine to formulate a MoI policy at primary stage of education. The MoI in local language at the primary level is a personal opinion of Manohar Parrikar which is to be paraded to incite cultural divide. He has cremated his personal commitment without remorse.

Government created minority monopoly

This grants policy has made Konkani/Marathi compulsory till Class X. There is nothing new in this as this was prevalent earlier also with marginal exceptions such as schools affiliated to Central Board/ICSE and those few students who opt for French, Portuguese or Sanskrit. Making a language course compulsory does not speak of MoI policy at primary stage of education. With the passage of time these exceptions will have to be retained.

The BJP had actually sold this grants policy to the DSE & ABE probably during the election campaign time i.e. before it was elected to power. The Congress party transaction in this matter was transparent; they stood by what they said. They faced the brunt of the “Get Well Groups”. The BJP led by Manohar Parrikar showed one product to the people and sold another through the black market. Today, the earlier agreement to sale is confirmed and the sale deed stamped and sealed. This policy has also resulted in a monopoly of English medium Church or minority schools with public funding. BJP has given an additional bonus by restricting grants to English medium primary schools run by DSE & ABE. This positioning will collapse if tested in the High Court.  Grants is not a matter of right but cannot be used selectively and without a rational and reasonable classification. English is not the language or culture of minorities in Goa. The percentage of students of majority community studying in English medium primary schools established by minority management exceeds the children from minority community. A few exceptions to this may be seen in the coastal belt. One also does not appreciate cap on unaided primary schools. Quality cannot be promoted through such protection.

 

This policy will not be opposed by the RSS-led Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch though there may be some veiled attempts at face saving. Congress can be dumped as pseudo-secular. BJP, whatever it does should be hailed as the saint of nationalism. If English is the language of expectations and its importance cannot be overlooked as claimed by the Chief Minister in his media interactions, then, why is the aid only to the minority institutions? At another point, Manohar Parrikar highlights that now English education is accessible to the poor from primary stage.

Injury to educational health

The real challenge is to convince the parents that local language is the best medium for the child at primary stage. English is significant for the child. Future of the child depends more on fundamentals, skills and learning that promotes creativity and thinking. The thinking that English at primary level makes the child competitive and fit for global positions automatically is erroneous. The level of language skill acquired by a child at primary level depends on the methodology of teaching the language rather than the medium. Knowing the fear-infected parents today, a generation will lose the joy of learning, creativity and local cultural notes of music, dance, prose, poetry, anecdotes, songs and hymns. Probably, this is the price to be paid for wisdom to dawn on parents at an irreversible stage.

The Hindu youth bashes minorities and fall an easy prey to the games of Manohar Parrikar’s BJP and Subhash Velingkar’s RSS. They want to emerge as protectors of minority interests. The RSS and Manohar Parrikar did their best to divide communities. They lured them to fight and ensured they locked horns during the Congress rule. The secular camps and Konkani lovers were caught in the bait. The minorities were projected as anti-national as having demanded grants for English-medium primary schools and now the same political party positions the grants policy as a windfall for minorities. We should read the game of Manohar Parrikar and avoid pouncing on the lovers of Konkani in different communities.

It is not that Digambar Kamat had to get well then or for that matter Manohar Parrikar now. They have intelligently planted the poison and made the communities enemies of each other. Better late, than never, the sport should be understood. The sooner we get well, the better. BBSM never speaks the voice of Goa forcefully. On the other hand--- FORCE, DKA, GKA, GTA, DSE, ABE, KBM speak in the Goan voice and all their bells toll for Konkani. Come together to foil evil designs of those who throw bones to divide. Need I say more?

I would inhale this grant with a statutory warning--- A medium other than the local and family medium at primary stage of education is injurious for the growth and overall health of the child. Government should not formulate a policy to support and stimulate this vice even if it means recognizing the freedom of choice. 

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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