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Two lakh parents have spoken, the govt has to listen

18 May 2017 04:45am IST
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18 May 2017 04:45am IST

The Medium of Instruction imbroglio has got just a little bit trickier. With a new Legislative Assembly being constituted, all the committees formed by the previous Assembly have got dissolved and all the bills before the Assembly stand lapsed.

The Medium of Instruction imbroglio has got just a little bit trickier. With a new Legislative Assembly being constituted, all the committees formed by the previous Assembly have got dissolved and all the bills before the Assembly stand lapsed. Among the bills is the Goa School Education (amendment) Bill 2014, that intended to include the government’s MoI policy into the School Education Act, so as to give the policy legislative authority. Among the committees that have got dissolved is the Select Committee that had been headed by the then Chief Minister to whom the Bill had been referred to after MLAs had raised some issues. 

The policy, however, remains in force it being a government decision and the government will have to decide whether to bring in the same policy in the form of a Bill in the Assembly, or change it. This, the possibility of a change, is what the Forum For Rights of Children’s Education (FORCE) feared could happen, and so had been consistently demanding that the policy as it existed be enacted as law.

FORCE has been at it constantly, championing the cause of grants for English as a Medium of Instruction at the primary level. It did so even this week, taking a letter to the government with the signatures of 2 lakh parents supporting grants to English medium primary schools. And FORCE also objected to the ‘delaying tactics adopted by the committee and the government in giving legislative sanctity to the cabinet approval’ that paved the way for grants to certain English medium primary schools. 

There have been delaying tactics galore in the MoI issue and the advisory committee formed by the government is another such tactic. The advisory committee was constituted in July 2016 for wider consultation and to advise the government. It has already been granted three extensions and the possibility of seeking a fourth exists. 

FORCE’s demand that the cabinet decision on grants to English primary schools be legislated and so it be given legal sanctity at the earliest, faces a bottleneck in the form of the earlier Bill having lapsed. The government is unlikely to take any decision immediately and will probably wait until it unveils its Common Minimum Programme later this month to reveal its decision on the MoI. While the government is unlikely to tamper with the policy, it is the delay in legislating the cabinet decision that FORCE has been protesting and demanding it be done. 

It will soon be three years since the amendment Bill was first introduced in the Assembly. The government now has to bring a fresh amendment Bill to the House. Will it bring the same Bill or will it take into consideration the earlier issues that had been raised by the MLAs and for which the Bill had been referred to the Select Committee? This is where FORCE will now have to play a more proactive role if the amendment to the Goa School Education Act giving legal sanctity to grants to English primary schools is to become a reality.

The government too has to pay heed to the two lakh parents who have signed the petition seeking that the cabinet decision be legislated. The parents’ interests are the future of their children and a responsible government will also have the interests of its children at heart. The parents are not objecting to the teaching of Konkani or Marathi, all they want is a level playing field for their children in life, which they will face once they are out of school. The parents believe that an education in English will give them this opportunity. Can the government deny them this?
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