Goa’s medium of instruction issue takes communal turn

May 24th, 2011 - 10:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, May 24 (IANS) Goa’s already vexed medium of instruction issue has now taken a communal turn.

A spokesperson for the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM), which is backing regional languages as the sole medium of instruction, has said that elected legislators in Goa were divided on the issue along religious lines.

Christian legislators have supported English, while Hindu MLAs backed regional languages like Konkani or Marathi as the the medium of instruction in schools, irrespective of their party affiliations, convenor of the BBSM and former chief minister Shashikala Kakodkar said Tuesday.

“Only a few minority leaders from Salcete (a Christian dominated sub-district in south Goa) are dictating terms to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, forcing him to choose English as the medium of instruction,” Kakodkar said.

“It seems like the medium of instruction issue is dividing the legislators on religious lines,” Kakodkar added.

There are 27 Hindu and and 13 Christian lawmakers in the 40-member Goa legislative assembly.

The issue comes against the backdrop of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which envisions the child’s mother tongue - in Goa’s case Konkani - as the medium of instruction.

The act is scheduled to be ratified in the state assembly soon.

At present, the Goa government offers aid and grants only to schools in which Konkani or Marathi is used as the teaching medium.

The Forum for Rights of Children’s Education (FORCE), a parents’ front backed by a large section of Catholic politicians and the clergy, has sought English as the medium of instruction, while the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM), supported by a section of freedom fighters, politicians and Hindu rightwing organisations, has backed both Konkani and Marathi languages as a medium of instruction.

A delegation of the Goa government on Tuesday met Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal in a bid to resolve the issue.

Congress general secretary in charge of Goa Jagmeet Singh Brar has said that the ball was in the court of the Goa government on the contentious issue.

“The consultations in Delhi are over. But the final decision has to be taken by the state government,” Brar told reporters Tuesday.

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