Premier Kolkata college earns ire for shutting doors on non-English medium students

The announcement from the college said that students whose medium of instruction in Class 12 was vernacular have not been considered for admission

July 03, 2023 10:07 pm | Updated 10:07 pm IST - Kolkata

A view of Loreto college in Kolkata. File.

A view of Loreto college in Kolkata. File. | Photo Credit: SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

A premier Kolkata institution, Loreto College, is drawing flak for openly shutting its doors to students who are not from English-medium schools. Admissions to undergraduate courses began in West Bengal on July 1 and it was while initiating the process online that the college — affiliated to the University of Calcutta — announced that it was going to ignore applicants from Bengali- and Hindi-medium schools.

While college authorities have not yet responded to the question as to how it could be discriminatory, its announcement took people by surprise, particularly academics and the teaching community, who responded angrily on social media.

​The announcement said: “The medium of instruction in Loreto College is ONLY English. Examinations will have to be answered ONLY in English. Our reputed Open Shelf Library has only English reference/text books and journals for all subjects other than vernacular Bengali and Hindi. From previous experience we strongly recommend that candidates hailing from vernacular medium schools opt to study in institutions where the medium of instruction is bilingual. Students whose medium of instruction in Class XlI was vernacular have not been considered for admission.”

In the original text, the word ‘instruction’ in the last line has the letter ‘r’ missing, and many made fun of it saying how a reputed college that insisted on English being its medium of instruction slipped up on spelling. But mostly it was anger.

​“The college is trying to snatch the basic right of a student to contest regardless of the medium of instruction through which they have had their elemental education. I believe that these people are suffering from a colonial hangover wherein they are still of the view that the people speaking/getting educated in local languages do not even qualify as educated individuals. I have seen Bengali-medium students adapt and flourish well after learning English and they have often outshined their counterparts from English-medium schools,” said researcher Saikat Banerjee, who holds a PhD in biochemistry.

“I myself have studied in an English medium ICSE board school, but I can easily understand that such decisions from educational institutions will have a far-reaching effect on students from suburbs, villages or even from good city schools that teach in the vernacular medium,” Dr. Banerjee said.

Ranjini Guha, an associate professor of history in a college located in a rural pocket just outside Kolkata, said: “When the University of Calcutta has a bilingual question paper for the semester exams, I see no reason why a premier college won’t consider meritorious students from vernacular medium for admission. There are so many instances of students from the vernacular medium going for higher studies to universities outside the country, even in subjects like English. What Loreto College could have done was to conduct an English proficiency test. There are instances galore where students from English-medium schools fail to write even a paragraph in proper English.”

Krishnakoli Ray, headmistress of Dhakuria Sree Ramakrishna Vidyapith for Girls in Kolkata, said: “I am appalled and angry. As an academician, I think Loreto College should learn its lessons first before even attempting to teach young minds anything at all. I have rarely seen such blatant arrogance in my entire work life. I hope to see an apology coming soon. That’s the least that they can offer.”

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