Raising the pitch for Marathi, the Maharashtra government on Friday announced that the language will be made a compulsory subject up to Class VII in all schools affiliated to central and international boards across the state, and that a comprehensive history of Chhatrapati Shivaji will be included in textbooks.
Education Minister Vinod Tawde told the Assembly that teaching Marathi till grade VII will be a precondition for granting a no-objection certificate (NOC) to all CBSE, ICSE and IB schools in the state. Schools from these Boards are required to approach the state government for an NOC every two to three years.
The announcement comes two days after the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena raised the Marathi issue to protest against auto-rickshaw permits issued to people who do not speak Marathi. The MNS on Friday asked its supporters to halt the stir for now.
Raising the issue of Shivaji during a discussion on school education in Question Hour, Tawde said, “CBSE schools have just four lines on Shivaji Maharaj. A resolution would be adopted in this session asking the Central government to incorporate the entire history on the warrior king and his legacy in history curriculum of CBSE, ICSE and IB schools.”
The previous Congress-NCP government had also issued a directive making Marathi compulsory for these schools, but the diktat had met with protests from school managements at the time and could not be implemented properly.
Tawde had first spelt out his plan to make teaching Marathi a condition for renewing NOCs during a meeting with representatives of the educational Boards last October.
The government’s decision met with a lukewarm response from schools and educationists. Kalpana Dwivedi, principal of St Joseph’s, a CBSE-affiliated school, said, “It is a good decision to have dedicated chapters on Shivaji Maharaj’s contribution towards Hindavi Swaraj (sovereign Hindu state). However, making Marathi compulsory till class VII is a little unfair. Many students coming from non-Marathi schools find it difficult.”
CBSE schools have Marathi as a compulsory subject till class IV, after which it becomes optional. Schools affiliated to other non-state Boards have Marathi as an optional language subject.
Jayant Jain, an education activist with the NGO Forum For Fairness in Education said, “Marathi should be a compulsory language as it is the language of the state. Having dedicated lessons only on Shivaji Maharaj might impress a few (but) there are so many other leaders whose contribution is forgotten today. They deserve at least a section in the history textbooks.”
The plan to focus solely on Shivaji “seems like a political agenda to me”, Jain added.
Calling it “a clear political move”, a principal of a well-known IGCSE school in Juhu said, “We do not want to be part of it right now. Once the state government issues an official circular or GR (government resolution), we will decide a further course of action. I have heard that the concept will be discussed with officials and representatives of all non-state Boards. We will wait for an official decision on this.”
The decision to include a detailed chapter on Shivaji as a management guru was first announced by Tawde on the occasion of Shivaji Jayanti this year.
Dropouts to get dear for officials
The Maharashtra government on Friday announced a new initiative to facilitate a return to classroom for those who dropped out of school. Under the programme, Education Minister Vinod Tawde declared, those reporting a school dropout will be rewarded with cash prize of Rs 1,000. The government had recently invited flak with the low number of dropouts reported in a statewide survey. “We will carry out a few more rounds of surveys in the coming months and then roll out this scheme,” Tawde told the Assembly.
Indicating that the accountability — after a school dropout was detected outside the survey — would rest with the Education Department, Tawde said the department’s officials at the local block/district level will bear Rs 500 and Rs 250 for each such cash reward. The remaining Rs 250 in each case will go from his own pocket, Tawde said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines