The Maharashtra government has decided to introduce Urdu as an optional language from an early level in Marathi-medium schools across the state that has a significant population with Urdu as its mother tongue.
The government, however, does not plan to create any extra position of Urdu teachers in these schools for the purpose, or extend any additional finances as part of the move.
“Marathi medium schools that want to provide Urdu as an optional subject will have to tie up with Urdu medium schools so that teachers from the latter can come and teach the language to their students,” said a senior official from the state school education and sports department.
As per the current syllabus, students of Marathi medium schools can learn only Marathi, English and Hindi till Class VIII. “It is only from Class VIII that students can choose optional languages from a list of subjects, including Urdu. Due to this arrangement, many non-Marathi students, especially those who follow Urdu as their mother tongue, don’t get in-depth, official education of their own language,” said the official.
The government, thus, has decided to offer Urdu language as a subject right from Class VI in Marathi medium schools run by zilla parishads and municipal corporations, provided there are at least five students per school opting for the course.
On a pilot basis, the state government will introduce this option in 100 schools in the ongoing academic year. These schools are concentrated in areas with a significant Urdu-speaking population and a presence of Urdu medium schools so as to make teachers available.
The government has asked all primary education officers to send a list of such schools to the state, after getting them vetted by the director of primary education and the state’s commissioner for education. As per a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, of the total schools in the state, 83.3 per cent are Marathi medium schools, 9.6 per cent are English medium, followed by 4.7 per cent Urdu medium schools.