To make the learning of Gujarati language more attractive to high school students, the education department has introduced exercises for teachers in the newly-published textbooks to be used during the current academic session that begins this month. The exercises for teachers include showing them DVDs of the teleserial Bharat Ek Khoj’ based on Jawaharlal Nehru’s Discovery of India, discussing Father Carlos Valles, a Spanish Jesuit who worked for the preservation of Gujarati language, and the elaboration of the culture, ethnicity and cuisine of Gujarat in order to create a pride for it among students.
These exercises are the end of each chapter in the newly-framed Class IX curriculum for Gujarati language, both as first language and second language subject. Similar attempt has been made in the revised Class XI curriculum, both to be implemented this month.
The move comes after the declining popularity of the Gujarati language evident in the results of the Class X board exams. Over 2.29 lakh students (27.56 per cent) failed in Gujarati language alone in 2015-16, leading to a huge number of detentions.
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The books urge teachers to discuss with students the ongoing efforts towards preserving Gujarati language. For instance, a Class IX book says, “Father Valles being a Spanish is so worried about Gujarati language. Isn’t it a bigger responsibility for us being a Gujarati to preserve this language — discuss this with students in detail.”
The books also advice on discussing Gujarat’s ‘Mahajan culture’ where money is given back to the society by the wealth creators. A chapter on Vinoba Bhave in Class IX asks teachers to “look for Bharat Ek Khoj film and show its DVD to students. Explain to students with examples — The heritage of Indian culture, its diversity, grandeur, ancient.” The teachers are also advised to tell students about Gujarat’s festivals, culture, lifestyle, eating habits, ras, garba, huda, tribal dances and fairs.
“During the recent brainstorming sessions on the concern over our mother tongue losing hold among the youth, it was realised that there is a lapse on the part of teachers. Once teachers understand the concepts, it would be easier for them to teach the students. Also, we have focused on how to make this subject interesting for students. For this, we have added use of audio, visual aids, films and learning beyond books,” said Gujarat State School Textbook Board chairman Nitin Pethani.
At the end of some chapters, the teachers are given the list of Gujarati idioms that are to be explained to students with “detailed discussion in an effective manner”.
In an another instance, teachers are asked to brief students about “guru-shishya” culture that existed in ancient years and the relation between guru-shishya. They are also urged to find more maxims and idioms on friendship and explain them to students. In another essay on village life, the extra-curricular exercise advises teachers to tell students about simple life in a village and Gujarat’s seasonal delicacies.
While the education department has put the onus on teachers, language experts blame the department for not providing qualified and trained teachers for Gujarati language. “A teacher makes a subject interesting or dull for students.
In recent years, the education department has not given importance to Gujarati teachers,” said Purushottam Patel, who retired as the head of department of education department at Gujarat Vidyapith and now is a trustee of Matrubhasha Abhiyan, the campaign initiated to revive Gujarati.
The losing interest and increasing preference for English is not only restricted to Class X, but also to Class XI and XII science stream students. In 2015, merely 0.22 per cent students took Gujarati as a language subject (among options of Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, English, Sindhi, Marathi or Arabic) in Class XII science stream against 84.13 per cent students who preferred English language in Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) board examinations.
Keeping this in view, the GSHSEB proposed a few months back to make the language compulsory for Class XI and XII Science stream students. This is yet to be implemented.