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English or Konkani: Goa debates on what to use in schools

Sunday March 20, 2011 10:13:40 AM, IANS

Panaji: Lawmakers and parents in Goa are debating whether English or mother tongue Konkani should be the medium of instruction (MOI) in schools upto Class 8.

Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate told the Goa legislative assembly Friday that a policy decision on the MOI issue would be taken by April 8, when the budget session concludes.

The MOI debate has been slowly welling up in Goa over the last couple of years, after the central Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act envisaged that the mother tongue should be the medium of instruction for school children up to Class 8.

The issue was raised by Deputy Speaker Mauvin Godinho in the house Friday.

"The poor are sending their children to English medium schools because they believe that English will propel them to excel in their studies. Why, even the Chinese are learning English. Parents whose students are studying in (English medium) schools run by the Archdiocese (Church) are agitated. Why is the government disbursing grants only to Konkani/Marathi schools?" Godinho said.

As per the education department's policy, schools with English as MOI - which includes several privately-run educational institutions and other schools run by the church in Goa - are not entitled to government funding.

Godinho said the policy of debarring "English" schools from availing grants had failed.

"Is Konkani only for the poor to study? Let the parents be given the choice (of deciding which MOI to choose)," Godinho said, with legislators from the ruling Congress backing his demand.

Binar Barros, who has been articulating the concerns of parents and teachers in Goa, said that adoption of Konkani as MOI was like putting the future of their children in danger.

"Figures available between 1991 till date reveal that around two lakh children have suffered because of the imposition of Konkani as a medium of instruction. We aren't expressing apprehension about Konkani," he told IANS.

"If the mother tongue is made the medium of instruction from Class 1-8, it would be harming the future of our children," Binar told IANS.

Calangute legislator Agnelo Fernandes said that MOI politics was virtually an extension of subtle casteist subjugation.

"Should people come out on the streets? High caste people are sending their children for English education and are telling the poor to educate their children in Konkani. Give parents the choice, why should we impose it?" asked Fernandes.

Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the issue needed to be examined by educationists and advised against a hasty decision.

"This issue is not so casual so as to discuss it during (assembly's) zero hour. It requires deliberation. The right to education must be implemented only after discussion. This is too serious an issue. The government should discuss with the PTAs (parent-teacher associations) and management," Parrikar said in the house.

Monserrate said the government would take a "policy decision on the issue, by the end of the budget session".







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