[lg policy] Karnataka: Private schools upbeat, one step closer to their goal

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 15 14:49:58 UTC 2014

Private schools upbeat, one step closer to their goal

Tanu Kulkarni


Private school managements in Karnataka are upbeat after the latest Supreme
Court verdict on the State’s language policy of 1994.

They have threatened to move a contempt plea if the schools are not
immediately registered as ‘English-medium’ schools, since the court has
rejected the State’s position that mother tongue/regional language should
be the compulsory medium of instruction at the primary level. The
government, on the other hand, has refused to accept ‘defeat’. It now plans
to urge the Centre to bring out a legislation giving importance to all
regional languages in primary education.

Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar said
the issue was as “constitutional crisis” and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
would press for a Central amendment on this. “The Chief Minister will
convene a meeting, after which our future course of action will be chalked
out,” he said.

While Karnataka Private School Joint Action Committee (KPSJAC) has decided
to ask all member schools to apply to the competent authority for
registration as English-medium schools with the prescribed fee, the
Minister said his department would consult the Law Department on the issue.

The tussle over the State’s language policy has dragged on for two decades
in courts, while the situation on the ground has become increasingly
complicated. Many State Board schools, on paper, have been registered as
Kannada-medium schools, but are imparting lessons in English. The
government did not crack down on them since the issue was in court. It is
also an open secret that English-medium school managements have made sure
they are in the “good books” of officials so that they do not crack the
whip on them.

According to the Education Department, there are only 6,302 English-medium
elementary schools in the State. However, D. Shashi Kumar, the organising
secretary of the Karnataka Private School Joint Action Committee (KPSJAC),
says the number of English-medium private schools that are operating is
more than double the figure quoted by the department since many are not
registered as English-medium schools.

On the other hand, there has been a proliferation of schools affiliated to
the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council of Indian
School Certificate Examination (CISCE), since they are not bound by the
language policy of the State. Interestingly, even though No Objection
Certificates issued by the State government to start schools under CBSE or
CISCE syllabus say that they have to adhere to the language policy until
the affiliation to the other boards is granted, there are no instances of
this being followed.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, meanwhile, has said he would write to all the
Chief Ministers seeking their support on the issue as it affects all
States. Mr. Ratnakar said most States shared the view on giving primacy for
their respective languages as the medium of instruction in primary


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