Why such a drastic step at this time of the academic year, ask worried parents

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FUTURE UNCERTAIN: A class in progress at Khammar School in Bangalore on Wednesday. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
FUTURE UNCERTAIN: A class in progress at Khammar School in Bangalore on Wednesday. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Staff Reporter

We had no choice on initiating action against schools, says Horatti

Bangalore: "What can we do now? We have to again look for schools for our children. The Government has not thought about the pain caused to parents and their wards," says Shakuntala, a parent. She asks why the Government had to take such a drastic step at this point of time.

The State Government, since Friday, has issued orders to more than 400 private primary schools found to be violating the policy on the medium of instruction in the city.

According to sources in the Education Department, 1,416 schools across the State will lose Government recognition by the end of the week. Over 4.5 lakh children are likely to be affected by the decision.

Shahida Parveen, principal of Khammar Memorial English School, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the school was granted permission by the Government four years ago. "They did not give us permission to start an English-medium school. However, in our school, we have both Kannada and English. All these years, officials of the Education Department did not have a problem. Why has it become a problem suddenly," she asked.

Ms. Parveen said she met the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (South) on Wednesday morning. "The DDPI said that he will make sure that the children are put in other schools as soon as possible," she said.

Nearly 100 teachers of schools that received notices met on Wednesday to discuss their future course of action. The teachers discussed the possibility of filing a case jointly in the High Court. "However, we will meet again on Saturday and discuss the issue further," Ms. Parveen said.

The case of Jamia Ul Uluma School is different. Although it has not received any notice, its name has been included in the list of schools to be shut down in a month. Officials of the school said it did not come under the category of others in the list. The school was started in 1983. The Government Order according the school permission to conduct classes in English medium was issued on November 11, 1993 with retrospective effect. The DDPI had granted recognition till 2008. The official said the school had written to the DDPI and had urged him to issue a statement to ease the apprehensions of the parents.

Meeting soon

Basavaraj Horatti, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, told The Hindu from Hubli that Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy would call for a meeting within a week to resolve the issue. He said the Government would "take every step possible to ensure that no child is harmed." But he was non-committal on the exact measures planned to remedy the trauma faced by parents and children. Asked why the Government took such a step in the middle of the academic year, Mr. Horatti said the department had been issuing warnings repeatedly to all these schools since 2003. Notices were sent to them before the beginning of this academic year as well, he said. "We had no choice but to take a stern step finally. The Government is not on the wrong on any count," he added.

Extension likely

Will the department be forced to extend the date of closure of the schools considering the confusion and uncertainty in the academic and political environment that the decision has caused?

The former Education Minister B.K. Chandrashekar sees this as a distinct possibility, as it is a matter that involves the future of over four lakh children. "Arbitrary talk of adjustments is highly irresponsible on such a grave matter," he said.

Even as he made it clear that he had no differences with the policy or the legality behind the exercise, he asked if there had been any thought on "macro planning" before indulging in this "tokenism." Have the logistics been worked out on neighbourhood requirements, he asked. "Clearly, a child in Konanakunte cannot be asked to move to a school in Kalasipalya. But have such questions been even raised," he asked.

If the Government decides to extend the deadline on grounds of practicality, questions would be raised about why it indulged in this "gimmick" at this point of time.

Sources in the department said the Government might be forced to relax the date of closure till the end of this academic year.

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