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Morcha condemn govt decision to make Bengali compulsory language at schools

Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today "condemned" the state government's decision to make Bengali compulsory at schools and demanded that the Darjeeling hills, Dooars and the Terai be kept out the directive's purview.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said: "We condemn the state government's decision to make Bengali a compulsory language at schools. We are not against any language or learning new languages but you cannot force a language on us. The state government must keep the Darjeeling hills, Dooars and Terai outside the ambit of the directive."
State education minister Partha Chatterjee had said yesterday that it would be compulsory to learn Bengali at schools.
Nepali language was included in the Eight Schedule of the Indian Constitution in 1992 after an agitation of nearly four decades. Nepali was recognised as the official language of the hills by the state government in 1960.
Many academicians said making Bengali compulsory from Class 1 to Class X even in English medium private schools, which follow ICSE syllabus, would pose major challenges.
"The decision has been taken without considering the ground realities of this region. To start with, how can small private primary schools till Class IV find a teacher for Bengali language in the hills? It would not be profitable for teachers from the plains to come up to the hills and teach given the salary structure that exists for them," said an educationist.
Even the heads of established schools in the hills aired similar grievances.
"First of all, we have to wait for the ICSE board's directive as schools can change the syllabus only till Class VIII. At our schools, English is the first language, while 80 per cent of the people take Nepali as the second language. Most of these students take Hindi as the third language. There are some who also take Bengali as second or third language but the figure is very small. If everyone has to be taught Bengali from Class 1 to Class X, then we have to recruit a number of teachers for the subject and that itself will be a problem," said the principal of a well-known ICSE school in the hills.
The school head was of the opinion that the institutions would be left with no option other than to hike fees. "Earlier, when computers education was first launched, schools used to charge a certain amount as 'computer fees'. We probably will have to start something as "Bengali language class fees" at the school," said the head.(TT)

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