The MoI Imbroglio

By Prabhakar Timble
09 January 2016 15:23 IST

The movement opposing public grants to English-medium primary educational institutions is understandable only on the ground that it is universally accepted principle that primary education is ideal if in the home language as it is more likely to be child-friendly. It is also held that school environment blends with the home surroundings giving scope for greater child participation resulting in better learning outcomes. This needs to be read with a rider. 

Mere home language, stand alone as medium cannot make learning joyous, creative and stress-free. Everything depends on the methodology of teaching at primary level and motivation of the teacher. Parents are in search of good schools as opposed to the medium of instruction. The other issue today is of changing times which has made homes to shelter multilingualism with the child exposed to a minimum of three languages well before entering primary school. Further, it would not be practically correct to hold that Konkani in the Devanagiri script is the mother-tongue of Catholic community in Goa. Tradition wedded and single script protagonists may vehemently disagree with this contention. But, the reality has to be squarely faced when we strongly advocate mother-tongue as medium of instruction at primary level. This accident of history does not make anyone less Indian or de-cultured.

In the context of modern times of globalization and breakdown of national boundaries, civilized democratic societies also need to respect the freedom of choice and can no longer cling to the principles of the past, however pure they may be, as they too get dethroned. Nothing stays holy and sacred in the modern times driven by science, reason and technology. Hence, sowing seeds of discord and animosity between English and Indian languages would help neither. The approach of language lovers turning fanatic taking stands to cut each other’s throat will not lure the present and future generation to regional languages. It is only a complementary and composite formula along with English that will allow regional languages to flower.

The concern for the future of regional languages is reasonable. The solution to the threats faced by local languages if sought to be attempted by denying freedom of choice of medium of instruction at primary level would prove to be self-defeating. The proof is already seen in the clamor for English-medium schools by parents and children. There are effective alternatives available to promote multilingualism through the school system and beyond. Advances in communication technology provide scope for many more initiatives to foster languages and culture.

Raising the bogey of denationalization defies sanity and logic. How does any language or English medium of instruction at primary level make a community denationalized or anti-national?  Should the same argument be applied at the secondary stage of education where the medium is English in all schools? Knowing that children from all communities register for primary education in English medium, why only the Catholic community is put in the dishonorable bracket as denationalized and referred in derogatory manner? Why the medium issue is made communal? The intentions of such freedom fighters and nationalists are clear suspect. The hidden political and social agenda is out in the open. Planting the venom of discord, hatred and distrust against Goa’s sizeable minority which has always merged well with majority to preserve Goa’s distinct identity is the end-game. Grants are provided by the government for teachers to enjoy the benefit of government pay scales. The benefit to the parents and children is indirect as it makes primary education affordable to all. It should be underlined that the teachers and students are inclusive belonging to all communities.

The fulcrum of the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch is the RSS known for a brand of nationalism which poses threat to the Indian Constitution. They are also known to imprison education within their narrow ideology. They have been engineering history, culture, politics and society as a subset of this contracted philosophy.   .

As a teacher, I hold the view that local and home language is best suited at primary level for creative and natural development of the child. The real challenge is to orient and motivate the parents rather than dictate the medium of instruction. In today’s world our traditional wisdom has to give way to freedom of choice. What is more important at the primary level is learning through games, theatre and play methods and bringing the child to the minimum level of reading, speaking and writing skills in local language and in English. The controversy of language and medium of instruction is irrelevant and wasteful spending of time and energies.

Though the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch is positioning itself as anti-government the reality is diametrically different. The intention is to create a bigger picture that despite opposition from the majority community, the government will succumb to the demand of the minorities. The RSS and the BJP expects the majority community to continuously hold grudge against minorities and consolidate in favour of BJP to put an end to what they paint as minority appeasement.  This also creates an elevated platform for the BJP to emerge as the hero and savior of minorities by releasing grants despite stiff opposition and political risk. As the story ends, the RSS wins as communities keep safe distance. The BJP consolidates majority support. Parents of all communities get the freedom of choice at primary level through affordable education. Minority community is eyed as denationalized. Goa is plunged back into language controversy at school and official level.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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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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Previous Comments


Sanskrit is rich both in content and character. It is not dead. It is foolish to compare Konkani with Sanskrit, or Japanese, Chinese, Marathi, etc. all languages which have some stature!

- Ronald, Goa | 10 th January 2016 21:46


Ok that is one side of the story. How about Church and its sinister design on controlling culture and indoctrination of its flock. Do you have guts to have a take on it?

- Sadanand, Goa | 10 th January 2016 21:44


Goans are thinking from perspective of one election to next. Now it is MOI. Next time it will be parents choice of uniforms, teachers, examiners, school timing, mid day meal etc etc. Goans have become eternal crying babies.

- Madhav Bastodker, Ponda | 10 th January 2016 13:25


Wonderful analysis. Explains the RSS gameplan beautifully

- Exs, China | 10 th January 2016 00:37


The focus today is education and literacy

The argument that English should be MOI Is only thruugh vested interests

Konkani is slowing dying as has Sanskrit over the years

People are being brainwashed by the minority community and their stalwarts that unless you educate the children in English , their future us doomed

In this the vested interest of the minority community in spreading western culture is exposed

Though we are liberated the minority community community still suffer from the Stockholm syndrome... They identify themselves with the Pottuguese

- Dr Ravindta Pamandikar, Margao | 09 th January 2016 20:23


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