The Karnataka Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill making the study of the local Kannada language compulsory for all students from class 1 to class 10 in all schools in the state. The bill was introduced by the Congress government.
The Kannada Language Learning Bill 2015 codifies a policy decision of the state government to ensure that all students must be taught Kannada “as one of the compulsory language in all classes in a phased manner from the academic year 2015-16”, Primary Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakar stated while introducing the bill in the Assembly. He stated that learning of the local language was compulsory in schools in other southern states like Kerala.
The new law is seen as a means to work around a Supreme Court order of May 2014 that struck down the usage of Kannada as the mandatory medium of instruction in primary schools in the state.
While dealing with cases arising out of a 1994 state government order which made Kannada the mandatory medium of instruction in all schools in the state, the Supreme Court had last year ruled that the state cannot impose the regional language in a state for imparting primary education. The state government subsequently on the direction of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah held discussions with educators, Kannada writers and literary figures to find a way to ensure all students in the state learn the local language.
According to the new law, Kannada shall be taught either as a first language or a second language in all schools. Schools that are not teaching Kannada as a first or second language at present must introduce it in class 1 from the 2015-16 academic year and extended it till class X. Moreover, schools shall follow text books prescribed by the state.
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