[Lgpolicy-list] [lg policy] Karnataka: Skewed [language] policy leaves kids in lurch

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 16:13:26 UTC 2014

Skewed policy leaves kids in lurchPavan MV
<http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toireporter/author-Pavan-MV.cms>,TNN |
Nov 6, 2014, 07.23 AM IST


The alleged rape of a three-year-old girl by an attendant on their school
campus in north Bengaluru late last month has had widespread ramifications.
The as sault set off a flurry of events, one of which was the revelation
that the international school was not even legal. The school has reopened
but students and parents are quite worried. They don't know if the school
will continue to operate in its present form. They don't know where to go
as the transfer certifi cates it issues would be just a piece of paper. Be
sides, the school hasn't even obtained the prom ised CBSE affiliation.

The school has been accused of committing violations under the Karnataka
Education Act. It took permission to offer classes 1 to 5 in Kannada
medium, but actually taught in the English medium from nursery to class 7.

This school is, in fact, one of the thousands of institutions that could
find themselves on a list of illegal schools now being drawn up by the
department of public instruction. The exercise could leave thousands of
students nowhere to go.

Parents of these children are asking why this exercise is being undertaken
now though the education department has been party to all the violations.

Experts trace the problem to the state government's language policy
introduced in 1994. The policy mandated imparting education in the mother
tongue, Kannada in most cases. But, the state knew fully well that people
wanted their kids to be educated in the English medium. Lacking the
political will to take on the pro-Kannada lobby, the government turned a
blind eye to violations of the language policy .

After the policy was introduced, around 6,000 schools have been granted
permission to open by offering education in the Kannada medium. But most
offer English-medium education and everyone concerned -the political class,
officialdom and managements -let this violation thrive.

Private school managements have gone to court and the case has been one
long litany of petitions, counter-petitions, appeals and counter-appeals.

Niranjanaradhya VP, fellow, Centre for Child and the Law, NLSIU, said when
the matter was in the court, the education department allowed many schools
to run in English medium illegally .The department didn't monitor the
schools and this is now affecting parents and children, he added.

Most schools got around the language clause by getting CBSE and ICSE
affiliations. But these affiliations come into the picture only when the
school begins running class X. Also, the state government's No-Objection
Certificate is mandatory . Here too, the officials and management colluded.
They began functioning by taking permission for Kannada medium but in
practice were English-medium schools.

*What the court said*
On July 2, 2008, Karnataka high court struck down the language policy and
held that parents were free to choose the medium of instruction for their
children. The matter went to the Supreme Court where a constitutional bench
ruled on May 6, 2014 that parents could choose the language of education
for their wards.

Parents and schools thought the judgment would be the last word. But the
state government, till date, has not invited applications from schools for
running English-medium classes.

The Karnataka Unaided Schools Management's Association (Kusma) urged the
department of primary and secondary education to register its over 1,000
members as English-medium schools but the state government is not acting on
it. K V Dhananjay, legal adviser, Kusma, said he had filed a petition and
the SC has clearly directed in 2009 that the government shall not pass any
closure orders against unrecognised schools and this ruling alone will be
enough protection for English-medium schools registered as Kannada-medium

There are around 1,200 schools under the umbrella of the Karnataka State
Private School Management Association (KSPSMA) and most are registered as
Kannada medium schools. D Shashi Kumar, organizing secretary , KSPSMA, said
the government cannot declare these schools as unauthorized as they have
violated only one clause. Even after the SC judgment, the government has
not shown any interest to resolve this issue and this only amounts to
contempt of court, he alleged.

On September 15, KSPSMA requested the government to consider all existing
schools as English-medium schools. Shashi Kumar said, "If the government
doesn't do anything, we'll be forced to file a contempt of court case."

The government's reluctance to implement the judgment is worrying for the
thousands of parents. In the north Bengaluru school, officials talk of not
allowing the school from running classes 6 and 7.

The department of public instruction has now begun posting on its website a
list of legal schools. Parents of students of schools not in this list will
face more uncertainty, thanks to the paralysis afflicting decision-making
levels of the government.


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