The High Court has also ruled that the decision of the State to cancel all the proposals seeking permission to start “Marathi medium” schools by issuing an order on the premise that such proposals can be considered only after the enforcement of the perspective plan, is “illegal and unconstitutional being discriminatory and arbitrary and also suffers from the vice of non-application of mind”.
First you may please watch the video presented by NDTV at the following link.
Some of the statements of the correspondent are misguiding since based on incomplete or wrong information. We wish to clarify the facts as given below.
- The High Court has clearly stated that it is the fundamental right of a citizen to set up a school subject to fulfilment of reasonable conditions formulated by the government.
- The High Court has also ruled that the decision of the State to cancel all the proposals seeking permission to start “Marathi medium” schools by issuing an order on the premise that such proposals can be considered only after the enforcement of the perspective plan, is illegal and unconstitutional being discriminatory and arbitrary and also suffers from the vice of non-application of mind.
- Most of the schools that have asked for permission are not ‘Entirely New’ but already exist since they already have students studying in lower classes. The permission they are seeking now is to extend teaching facilities from primary schools (up to the 4th standard) to middle schools or middle schools (up to the 7th standard) to high schools. The only ‘Sin’ of the schools for which the schools are not being given permission to start subsequent classes is that the medium of instructions in these schools is Marathi, which happens to be the state language. And by abruptly forcing the schools to close further (higher) classes, the government is putting the future of the students of the lower classes in jeopardy. The students of the 4th or the 7th standard suddenly find that they are without a school. This also discourages new students to take admissions to those schools and pressurising the existing students to leave the schools as early as possible before coming to a dead end at the end of the 4th or the 7th standard.
- The government officers openly advise the Marathi schools institutions to apply for an English school and take the permission right away. At many places, the government has given permission to 3-5 English medium schools while rejecting permission to even a single Marathi school. Thus the students who want to join Marathi schools are being forced to join English schools.
- The educationists, including those from the English speaking countries are unanimous in saying that mother tongue is the best medium of education. Ravindranath Tagore, Gandhiji, and many other great leaders of our country have emphasised the need to have education in the Indian languages. The constitution of India, The Kothari Commission set up to decide the independent India’s education policy, the National Integration Commission have all prescribed education, including higher education, in the local language of the state, which is the mother tongue of the majority people of the state. And here our state government itself is suppressing education in the official language of the state while supporting education in any other language especially English which is not the mother tongue of most of us.
- If, as the government claims, the supply of Marathi schools is more than the demand then how come there are students who are willing to join the 7840 schools that had submitted the proposals to the government? There are many places where there are no schools at all in the vicinity of 5-8 kilometres.
- At many places, the parents are removing their children from the government schools due to their poor quality of education and admitting them into private Marathi schools. And this is the government’s real pain point. The government is making huge expenses and paying hefty salaries to district run schools but people in general are not interested in admitting their children to those schools as the quality of the educaation is too bad. At many places the school teachers have other personal activities to pursue and hardly attend the schools. Thus the government schools run without students and without teachers and other staff. The education inspectors, who wre government employees, generally do not pass adverse remarks against government schools but are more ‘strict’ about private schools as that opens up a good source of income for them.
- The government had invited proposals on ‘no grant’ basis; out of which it rejected the proposals of only the Marathi medium schools and passed others. If the proposals of Marathi schools also were on ‘no grant’ basis, why does it not allow them as it allowed English, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada schools? And if the government was to reject thousands of such proposals of Marathi schools; why at all did it invite them and collected fees of Rs. 5000 to 15000 per proposal? The total amount so collected runs into 50-60 crores, which has gone into the government pockets after the government flatly refused permission to Marathi schools without providing any reasons whatsoever.
- For the last 10 years the government is planning to prepare a master plan to decide no. of schools in different areas of the state and has been saying that it would “consider granting permission to Marathi schools only after the plan is ready.” Any child would go either to Marathi or English or any other school. Then why is the master plan not going to be applicable to schools other than Marathi medium schools?
- If the government is planning to ‘consider proposals of Marathi schools’ only when the master plan is ready, what are the students in the 4th or 7th standard of the schools that have been declined permission supposed to do in the mean time?
- Why does the government want to dictate which school a child should go to? Why cannot the child (or its parents) decide the medium of instructions as well as the school to go to? Why is the government keen on not allowing new classes in Marathi schools only and trying to protect its Zilla Parishad schools as well as English medium schools (most of which have been put up by the politicians themselves) ? If the private Marathi schools are bad or are in excess of the demand, the students will not chose them and the schools would have to be shut down. Why should the government decide that no new Marathi school will be permitted without giving them a chance to prove themselves?
- The government claims that because of its past experience, it is concerned about the poor quality of education in the schools as some of them are set up only for taking advantage of the grant in aid. If that is true then what steps has it taken to inspect the quality of the existing schools and weed out the black sheep? Why does it want to perpetuate the sin of the people, mostly politicians, who have set up such schools, while altogether refusing permission for opening new schools/classes on no grant basis?
- The government also says that it has no money to give grant to the Marathi schools. The arguments against this are as follows:
- The government is not doing any favour when it gives a grant to schools, hospitals etc. It is the government’s primary responsibility.
- As per the suggestion made in the constitution, the government is supposed to spend 6% of the budget on education; whereas Maharashtra government spends hardly around 3% of the total budgetary expenditure.
- The government has recently formulated a new policy of giving licences for new liquor distilleries and additionally giving them grant for manufacturing liquor. However, the government has no money to offer grant for education. It has even not disbursed the aid promised to the schools in the past five years. Thus the policy of the government is exactly opposite of the principles propounded by Gandhiji whose name is always used by the ruling Congress party during election campaigns.
- Even if the government does not want to give any grant to the schools, why does it not allow the Marathi medium schools to be opened or new classes started on no-grant basis?
- The government also says that some of the schools granted permission on no-grant basis may press for grant in future and hence it does not want to give permission to any Marathi schools. This move is similar to resorting to abortion of a girl child just because one may have to pay for its dowry in future.
The state government has no replies to any of these questions as was revealed in the interview of the education minister Shri. Balasaheb Thorat, conducted by IBN-Lokmat on the 6th September 2010. You may watch the interview (in Marathi) at the following link.
The details (in Marathi & English) of the High Court decision are available at the following link.
Just ponder over the facts and decide what is your verdict.
– Amrutyatri Team