It would be dismissed as ridiculous if anyone said that Bangalore North I educational division, which includes areas such as Rajaji Nagar and Nandini Layout, does not have a single unaided non-minority private school with English as medium of instruction. However, officially, there are none in this part of Bangalore.
The list of schools put up by the Education Department, which are to admit children from underprivileged families under 25 per cent quota as mandated by the Right to Education Act, yet again emphasises the fact that most private schools in the State offer Kannada as a medium of instruction only on record.
With February 19 being the deadline, parents are now busy applying to private schools under the quota because they offer English education, unlike government schools.
Ironically, most of them are listed as Kannada-medium schools on the official website of the Department of Public Instruction.
Officials of the department admit that the government, while being fully aware of the situation, is not able to set this right because the medium of instruction has been a thorny issue now pending before the Supreme Court.
In 2008, the Karnataka High Court gave a ruling recognising the right of the parents to choose the medium of instruction of their children.
The government has filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the ruling. The State’s stand is that the medium of instruction at the primary level should be in the child’s mother tongue.
Then, private school managements also got a stay order against a government’s drive initiated in 2007 to de-recognise schools which violated the State’s language policy. This meant that schools which were offering English education, even as they had official permission only to run Kannada schools, continued to function as they did.
Niranjan Aradhya from the Centre for Child and Law, National Law School of India University, says that this strange dichotomy is being perpetuated even as the schools are getting re-registered with the Education Department as mandated by the RTE. “Parents who are admitting their children to these schools go by the oral assurance that their children will be offered English education. There is no legality to this,” he says.
In response, officials only plead helplessness and say that everything will finally hinge on the Supreme Court verdict.