The Ballimaran ward in the Walled City will soon lose its only Urdu-medium school.
As per a recent Delhi government order,Government Girls Senior Secondary School,Chashma Building,should be merged with another Hindi-medium school and students transferred en masse. Reason: the building,52 years old,is no longer considered safe,with the lime-yellow structure crumbling at many places. The authorities thus proposes to merge it with the Government Girls Senior Secondary School,Kinari Bazar,Gali Barafwali.
But the problem,says Class VI student Samreen Afzal,is changing the medium of instruction from Urdu to Hindi in the middle of an academic year. She is just one of the 500-odd students in the Urdu school. How can I suddenly study in a different language? the anxious 13-year-old asks.
Besides, she says,I wonder whether I can continue my studies. My father does not earn much and may not be able to afford the extra cost of a rickshaw ride to reach the new school every day.
The Hindi medium school is about a kilometre-and-half from Chashma Building.
But theres another issue at stake,too,say parents and some school teachers. With barely a handful of Urdu-medium schools now left the in the city,shutting down the Chashma Building institution will be another step in choking the language. The Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) of the Chashma Building school has sent a letter to the Delhi Minority Commission,the Directorate of Education and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit,seeking retention of the school at its present location.
Officials say the government order follows an inspection last year by the Public Works Department (PWD),which declared Chashma Building as dangerous. The PWD had suggested moving the school out of the structure.
But school authorities fear that the merger in the middle of an academic term will raise problems for students. Parents,meanwhile,say it will herald the death of Urdu language in the area. They can shift the school to another building,may be Panama Building,but the idea of merger raises questions, the schools PTA secretary,Abbass Dehlvi,says.
There are 22 Urdu-medium schools in Delhi and there has been demands to make Urdu a third language rather than having it as a medium.
Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Kamal Farouqi says minorities have every right to send their children to a school of their choice. According to the Three Language Formula of our country,framed in 1953,and the National Policy on Education-1968,parents are allowed to teach their children any language of their choice if it is a linguistic minority.
He says the Minorities Commission would take up the issue of merger. It is against the basic rights of the Urdu-speaking population, he says.