India: Kannada a must, so 800 schools shut

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Sep 19 12:20:35 UTC 2006

Kannada must, so 800 schools shut

Priyanjana Dutta

LANGUAGE ROW: The sudden crackdown has dealt a blow to lakhs of students
across the state.

Bangalore: It's curtains for over 800 schools in Karnataka. The state
government has directed these schools to close down because they use
English as the language of instruction. Nearly 600 schools in Bangalore
alone have been de-recognised for violating the language policy. A 1994
government order makes it compulsory for all government-recognised schools
to use only Kannada as the medium of instruction till fifth standard. The
sudden crackdown has dealt a blow to lakhs of students across the state
and parents are worried and unsure as to what their next step should be.

Says a parent, Latha, "Children are the losers. Many children come here
and the government has to make an effort such that the institution
improves." Parents, teachers and school authorities are questioning the
government's actions. They have two questions - what was the government
doing for the last 12 years and if the schools are being penalised, then
why are the officials who permitted this violation being let off? The
state government has refused to comment and the education department is
tight-lipped about the whole affair.

However, the Karnataka Unaided Schools Management Association says it will
be filing a case in the Karnataka High Court against this order. Says
President, Karnataka Unaided Schools' Management Association, G S Sharma,
"The Education Act says very clearly that the government must give one
year notice so as not to disturb any activity." And questions are being
asked about the discriminatory language policy, which allows schools
permitted before 1994 to have English-medium education. Educationists are
asking for a common language policy and English is the obvious choice for

Says an educationist, Maitreyee Kumar, "If you see government school
students come from the lowest income group and many of them may not be
able to complete their education. Even if they give up their education at
10th standard level, they might still have a whole spectrum of jobs open
to them." While that may be a long way off, it's the immediate future of
lakhs of children that hangs by a thin thread.

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