The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) has proposed to make Gujarati compulsory for Class XI and XII science stream students. The move comes in the wake of reports of youngsters in the state losing interest in their mother tongue.
The move is the first phase in reviving the language and.for its implementation, inputs from various organisations, like Matrubhasha Abhiyan, that are campaigning for reviving Gujarati have already been sought by the board.
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In 2015, hardly 0.22 per cent students took Gujarati in Class XII science against 84.13 per cent students who preferred English in GSHSEB board examinations.
GSHSEB deputy chairman R R Thakkar confirmed the development saying, “The board has received suggestions from various sections of society recommending ways to revive interest in our mother tongue among youngsters, especially school students. For a start, the board is working on making it a compulsory language for science stream students.” The move would mean an increase in the number of subjects for science stream students and could face the ire of students.
Defending the move, Thakar said, “Science stream students have only five subjects compared to seven for the general stream students. Thus, there should not be any problem if another mandatory subject is added”.
If this plan is implemented, any Class XI student of science stream, irrespective of the medium he has studied till Class X, has to compulsorily study Gujarati for two years.
At present, apart from three Science subjects — Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics or Biology — and Computer Science, the Science stream students have to choose a language from among Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, English, Sindhi, Marathi and Arabic.
Students are free to choose the option among three languages- Hindi, Gujarati and English-as first language or second language, but this option is not available for Urdu and Sanskrit. After English, Sanskrit is the popular language option among students.
The difference between the options of first and second language is the level of understanding for the language. Generally, Gujarati-medium students take up Gujarati as their first language which is more comprehensive and a level higher than the same as the second language option. The same goes for Hindi and English-medium students. Surprisingly, even as a second language, there are not many takers for Gujarati.
Recently, among various suggestions for the revival of Gujarati, Matrubhasha Abhiyan had proposed that schools affiliated to both Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) teach Gujarati as mandatory language from Class I to Class XII. Further, this should apply to students of English-medium schools as well.
“As per the survey conducted by our movement, the number of students failing in state board Class X examinations in Gujarati is increasing every year. From 5 per cent, over the last decade, it has increased to 20 per cent, this year. Shockingly, over 10,000 students were awarded zero mark in the subject. Last year, this figure was 8,000. So, we have recommended to the state board as well as the state government to make Gujarati a mandatory subject from Class I to XII,” said Rajendra Patel, trustee of Matrubhasha Abhiyan. He is also a well known Gujarati poet and writer.
Other possibilities being considered by the board include giving 20 per cent weightage to language subjects during admission to higher education institutes, which at present is not considered for science streams, both medical and non-medical, while for general stream students it is considered.
On the lack of a standard language policy and waning interest towards Gujarati language among youngsters, another trustee of Matrubhasha Abhiyan Purushottam Patel added, “Gujarat failed to fix a language policy, neither for Gujarati nor for English. At times, it was proposed that English be introduced from Class I, then class III and then from Class V and VI. Also, no research has been done on the methodology of Gujarati by a centralised institute, unlike English by the British Council. Sensitivity is declining in the society as we are moving away from our mother tongue.”
The board however, is also contemplating implementation of these recommendations, but at a later stage.