English medium row
Reacting to the May 25 decision of the state government to allow English (together with Konkani and Marathi) as media of instruction in schools, the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) likened the Congress-led Digambar Kamat government to the state’s former Portuguese rulers “who tried to finish local culture by displacing local languages”.
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, BBSM executive member Subhash Velingkar said that according Konkani and Marathi the status of medium of instruction languages while granting the same status to English, will “sabotage” local languages. “The Portuguese Governor Vassalo de Silva had tried to wipe out Goan culture in 1958. Silva had recommended to Portugal’s dictator (Antonio de Oliveira) Salazar that the Devanagari script and local languages be eliminated,” he said.
However, chief minister Kamat justifies the government’s decision to allow English as a medium of instruction following “many memoranda” submitted to the state government by “thousands of parents”.
Schools upgradation drive
The education, water and power departments of the state government have been directed to work in tandem to provide potable water, electricity and toilets in all state schools within a fixed time frame. Subhash Kumar, chief secretary of the BJP-led state govern-ment, gave these instructions during a weekly review meeting following a directive of the Supreme Court to provide basic amenities in all schools, according to a press statement issued by the state government in Dehradun on May 25.
Reporting on the fast progress being made by the government to comply with the Supreme Court’s directive, Kumar says that since May 18, 307 schools have been provided with drinking water facilities, while an action plan has been prepared to facilitate drinking water provision for 660 schools through pipelines, hand pumps and rainwater harvesting. To build toilets in 1,103 schools this year, officials have been directed to prepare a monthly target plan and complete installation by October. Moreover the Uttarakhand Power Corporation has undertaken electri-fication of 5,000 schools from June 1 and drawn up a time frame for wiring the remaining 5,526 schools in the state.
Teachers eligibility test upheld
A two-judge bench of the Rajasthan high court set aside a stay on the state’s teachers eligibility test mandated by the Congress-led Ashok Gehlot state government for all B.Ed graduates aspiring for teaching jobs. With its May 20 judgement, the high court dismissed all writ petitions challenging the legality of the Rajasthan Teachers Eligibility Test (RTET).
“According to fresh orders of the court, there will be no minimum marks criteria for graduates from arts, commerce and science streams who completed their B.Ed before 2007. Students who have completed their B.Ed between 2007 and 2009 and secured at least 45 percent as general candidates, will be eligible to appear for RTET,” says Kuldeep Mathur, counsel of the National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE), which was also impleaded in the case.
The madhya pradesh government proposes to take strong action against all involved in the sex-for-marks scandal at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College (NSCBMC), Jabalpur on the basis of recommendations of a committee constituted to probe the case. In an official statement issued on May 18, the state government says it has accepted all of the committee’s recommendations which could result in officials, employees and teachers found prima facie guilty being handed over to the police for further investigation.
The alleged sex-for-marks scandal rocked NSCBMC, affiliated with the Rani Durgavati Vishwavidyalaya (RDV), following a complaint lodged with the police by Sandhu Arya, a medical student from the Dalit community on February 17 this year. According to the complaint filed by Arya, Prerna Atwal, her college senior, told her she would have to dispense sexual favours to one Raju Khan if she wanted her marks increased in a re-evaluation.
Following the complaint filed by Arya, controller of examinations Prof. S.S. Rana and deputy registrar R.S. Kakodia of RDV were arrested on March 1. They have since been released on bail. Khan too has been arrested and is currently in judicial custody. Meanwhile at her request, the state government has transferred Arya to the Gwalior Medical College for continuing her studies while an inquiry against Atwal is being conducted by the NSCBMC authorities.
Tuition fees protest
The influential khasi Students Union (KSU) has requested education minister Ampareen Lyngdoh’s intervention to check rising tuition fees in private education institutions across Megha-laya (pop. 2.96 million). According to KSU, they are “irrational, unreasonable and unjustified”.
“This increase in tuition fees has irked the parents and students communities. The insensitivity of the school authorities to understand the plight of low-income household students and parents, has raised doubts about the intention with which such schools have been promoted,” said the KSU in a May 17 memorandum to the minister.
Jammu & Kashmir
Mobile schools for migrants
The jammu & kashmir government has approved 100 mobile schools for the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities of the state to enable children of these migratory tribes receive better quality education.
The decision to establish mobile schools for children of Gujjar and Bakerwal shepherds who shuttle between the Kashmir Valley and Jammu district in search of fresh pastures for their livestock, was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Omar Abdullah on May 11.
Abdullah says he has also invited proposals for launching mobile medical centres for these communities.