The Gujarat Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a Bill which makes teaching Gujarati language mandatory in all schools from Class 1 to 8 in the State, including those affiliated with CBSE, ICSE and IB Boards.
The Bill was introduced and passed with all 182 members including both the Congress and the AAP members supporting it during its passage.
If any school was found violating the provisions of the “Gujarat Compulsory Teaching and Learning of Gujarati Language Bill, 2023” for more than a year, the government would “direct the Board or institution” to disaffiliate the school.
As per the Bill document, the schools which are currently not teaching Gujarati language, will have to introduce it as an additional language for Classes 1 to 8 in phases, from the upcoming academic year 2023-24.
“Every school shall follow textbooks prescribed by the Gujarat government for teaching Gujarati as an additional language. The State Government will appoint a deputy director-level officer of the Education Department as the competent authority to implement the provisions of this Bill,” said Education Minister Kuberbhai Dindor.
“If a school is found violating the provisions for the first time, it will be liable to pay a penalty of ₹50,000, as per the Bill document. The penalty will be ₹1 lakh and ₹2 lakh for violations for second and third time, respectively. Subsequently the school will be derecognised. If a school continues to make contraventions to this act for over one year, the State Government may direct the Board or institution to disaffiliate the school, to which such a school is affiliated,” as per the provisions in the Bill.
The penalty will not be imposed without allowing the school concerned to put forward its explanation before the respective Board.
During the discussion in the House, the members of the Opposition Congress slammed the BJP government alleging it “woke up” only after a PIL was filed in the high court recently for the proper implementation of the State Government’s 2018 notification, asking all primary schools to introduce the Gujarati language as a mandatory subject in primary schools from Class 1 to 8.
“Before this Bill, the State Government had issued a notification in 2018 for the same purpose. Thus, I urge the State Government to make sure that this Bill does not meet the fate of that notification. We hope that you will implement the act strictly. Moreover, the State Government should think of increasing the amount of penalty,” said Congress Legislative Party leader Amit Chavda.
He also urged the State Government to introduce Gujarati as a compulsory subject at the secondary and higher secondary levels as well.
Recently, a Public Interest Litigation was filed by an NGO seeking the Gujarat HC’s direction to the State Government ‘‘to ensure the Government Resolution of 2018 is implemented in its true letter and spirit so as to introduce the Gujarati language as one of the mandatory subjects in primary schools from Standard 1 to 8.”
The petitioner had claimed that primary schools, especially those affiliated with the CBSE, ICSE, and IB boards, were not offering Gujarati as a subject in the curriculum despite a State policy in place, and therefore the Court’s intervention was sought.
The Court also came down heavily on the State authorities for failing to ensure that the Gujarati language was taught to the kids at the primary level in the schools.