Demand that Cabinet decision of 2014 be made a law; Opposition politicians lend support
PANJIM: An hour before the Monsoon Session of the Legislative Assembly commenced at 11.30 am on Monday, nearly 800 parents under the banner of Forum for Rights of Children to Education (FORCE) began a chain hunger strike at Azad Maidan, demanding that the Cabinet decision on grants to English medium schools be enacted into a law.
The parents apprehend a U-turn from the government on the decision taken a year ago to give grants to primary schools imparting primary education in English.
“The ruling coalition is known for making U-turns on various issues like casinos, Regional Plan and many more. While we appreciate that the Cabinet took decision in our favour, we are still uncertain it will continue. This is primarily why we are demanding that the July 2014 decision be made into legislation,” Joyce D’Sa, a mother of two primary school children from Raia, told Herald.
While announcing the decision, then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had assured it would be made into an Act in the next Assembly session. Since then, there have been three Assembly sessions but the issue has not been taken up. “We won’t stop till our demand is met. The government has been delaying on its promise. They have to translate their decision into an Act in the current Assembly session,” Savio Lopes, who is leading the campaign, told Herald.
Despite the rain, parents on a chain hunger strike did not move from the agitation point. Another set of parents will replace them on Tuesday.
The first day saw Opposition leaders including Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Luizinho Faleiro, Congress general secretary Sunil Kawthankar, Congress spokesperson Yatish Naik and former minister Churchill Alemao lending support to the agitation.
Lopes – the only FORCE member on an indefinite hunger strike – said they don’t want the agitation to take on a political colour but nonetheless welcomed all support.
Faleiro accused the government of ‘changing its colour’ while Alemao, who occupied a seat in the crowd, claimed he is backing FORCE as a common man.
Another parent and president of Rashtra Krantikari Samajwadi Party (Goa Unit) Jose Coutinho demanded that English be made medium of instruction across all schools. “English is the present and future. It will open up various opportunities across the world,” he said.