The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has recently shut down its last two Sindhi-medium schools where nearly 100 students were enrolled, besides two teachers.
The civic body has cited lack of students as the reason for closing down the Sindhi-medium schools, while private schools facing a similar fate blamed it on the “unpopularity” of Arabic script for the language among the younger generation.
Most private Sindhi-medium schools have converted to either Gujarati, Hindi or English- medium for survival. Earlier, there were 12 private Sindhi-medium schools in the city, but now only three survive — and that too till their students complete secondary and higher secondary education. In three-four years, these schools would fully convert to other media.
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“With the shift of students from Sindhi-medium to English-medium, there was no point in running these schools. There were only a few students left in the remaining two Sindhi-medium schools and that’s why the AMC School Board decided to shift students of these two schools to the Gujarati- and the English-medium schools running in the same building. The teachers have also been adjusted in other schools,” said board chairman Jagdish Bhavsar.
The last two Sindhi-medium municipal schools were in the community dominated areas of Kubernagar and Sardarnagar.
The “preference” for English-medium schools is reflected in the school board raising the number of such municipal schools in the city. The number of English-medium municipal schools in the city has climbed from five to nine in five years. The AMC has announced three more such schools in the budget for 2016-17.
Private Sindhi-medium schools also shared a similar story. In the three Sindhi-medium private schools in the city, there are 235 students. At MG School in Kubernagar, there are 143 students from Class X till XII, and at Dr CG School in Sardarnagar, there are 82 students from Class IX till XII. At Adarsh High School in Kubernagar, there are only 10 students in Class X.
“The wave of a shift from Sindhi-medium to English-medium started a decade ago. There are higher difficulty levels in Arabic script, and if Devanagari is promoted, Sindhi could revive,” said Swami Prakash Jagyasi, joint secretary of Navbharat Vidya Mandal that runs two Sindhi-medium private schools — M G School and Dr CG School. The problem aggravated with the Gujarat education department setting question papers in all minority languages, including Sindhi, in Gujarati script.
While MG School and Dr CG School have now started to offer education in English-medium, Adarsh High School has all its classes in Gujarati-medium, but one.
Member of the National Council for Promotion of Sindhi Language (NCPSL) Nirmala Wadhwani, also MLA from Ahmedabad’s Naroda constituency, said: “The council has now decided to propose a Devanagari and a Romanised Sindhi script against Arabic script.”
The Council also plans to propose to the Gujarat government to keep Sindhi as one of the subjects in primary and higher education, said Wadhwani.
Asked if Devanagari script would help revive the language and thus the schools, Wadhwani said, “Certainly it can, that is the reason we have decided to promote the Devanagari script.”
Pune-based writer Lakshman Hardwani, who recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award under the category of ‘Sahitya Rachna Sanman’ by NCPSL, said, “In the coming years, if some classical language will disappear from the country, Sindhi would be the first.”
“Protesting non-promotion of Devanagari Sindhi script, I had returned my Sahitya Akademi award given in 1992 in 2012. This is a major issue that needs to be addressed,” he told The Indian Express over phone.
Even as the estimated population of the Sindhi community increased from four lakh to five lakh in 10 years, the number of Sindhi-medium municipal schools have gone down from over 25 with nearly 5,000 students and around 200 teachers to zero in Ahmedabad.
After closing down of the Sindhi-medium schools, the AMC school board is now left with schools in Gujarati (303), Hindi (67), Urdu (63), Marathi (10), English (9) and Tamil (3) media.