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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 34 New Delhi August 11, 2018

Time for Upgradation in Education Policy

Sunday 12 August 2018, by Eduardo Faleiro

The fundamental right to education of all children up to the age of 14 years is enshrined in our Constitution. The State Government must provide the required facilities to the students so that they can exercise this Fundamental Right. Free Education means not merely free from tuition fees but also adequate classrooms and teachers, free uniforms, textbooks and other educational material.

In 2006, the State Government of Goa constituted a committee of educationists chaired by Prof Madhav Kamat to suggest measures to encourage, promote and consolidate primary education in vernacular medium schools. The Committee submitted its report in November 2006 and recommended long-term measures to regularise primary schools as well as a 15-Point Action Plan “to be implemented on a war footing by making appropriate financial, administrative and organisational arrangements so as to secure the beneficial effects from the beginning of the ensuing academic year in June 2007”. Most of the 15 points have not been implemented upto this date. Among the recommendations which have not yet been implemented are the following:

• Each and every one-teacher school should be turned into a two-teacher school. There should be no one-teacher school anywhere in Goa. Such schools have a deleterious effect on the quality of education.

• All the existing vacancies of teachers in government primary schools should be filled on top priority basis.

• Multiple classes should not be taught by different teachers in the same room. This practice is educationally unsound as the students cannot concentrate. Only one teacher should teach in one room.

• The non-educational tasks other than the election duties assigned to the government primary teachers should be withdrawn. Election duties should be restricted to duties related to polling.

• Cadre headmasters for schools having a minimum enrolment of 200 students should be provided.

• Clerical assistance to the schools having a minimum enrolment of 200 students should be arranged.

• All untrained teachers should be imparted training facilities on an urgent basis without affecting their teaching commitments. Training programmes should be centralised and carried out during holidays and free time available to the teachers. In case the training of teachers is carried out during vacations, appropriate earned leave should be given to them as per the rules.

• Short programmes must be organised for orienting teachers so that teaching and learning becomes joyful, creative and burden-free. UNESCO and leading educationists across the world agree that the use of native languages in education since early childhood enhances self-confidence and academic performance. In Goa, the language of study at the primary level should be either Konkani or Marathi. Konkani is the mother tongue of the people of Goa. Marathi is and has always been the literary language of a large segment of our population. The Madhav Kamat Committee has recommended that English should be taught as the second language from the first standard itself. Konkani should be taught in the devnagari script as it will provide access to Marathi and Hindi which is the national language. Children will learn the romi script when they learn English.

Cultural nationalism is growing across the world. In India, in the next generation, those who are not fully conversant with national languages are likely to be deprived of jobs and other spheres of activity. Emigration will also become difficult. All countries including those in the West as well as the Gulf countries have tightened their immigration controls and increasingly provide jobs only to their own nationals.

The government should hold programmes to sensitise parents as to the need for their children to learn in the mother tongue. The State Government and the schools should collaborate with the West Zone Cultural Centre under the Union Ministry of Culture to conduct progra-mmes for the youth so that they appreciate their national heritage and culture. There are also private organisations such as Spic Macay and Intach that conduct similar programmes.

We celebrated on June 18 the Goa Revolution Day. On this occasion, the Governor of Goa mentioned that episodes of Goa’s freedom struggle should be a part of the school syllabus. Indeed, it is very important to preserve the memory and teachings of the freedom movement. Selected writings of Dr T.B. da Cunha, known as the Father of our Freedom Struggle, were published in 1961 under the title Goa’s Freedom Struggle. The book is presently out of print. It should be reprinted and placed in the curriculum of schools and colleges so that it provides a much needed sense of direction to our society. In 2011, I arranged for a portrait of Dr T.B. da Cunha and at my instance it was unveiled in the Central Hall of Parliament by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha on December 19, 2011, the 50th anniversary of Goa’s liberation, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Congress President and all Goan MPs. The portrait is now on permanent display at Parliament House along with those of the foremost national leaders. Thereafter, I requested the then Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly that the portraits of Dr T. B. da Cunha as well as of the other leaders of our freedom movement should be unveiled in our Legislative Assembly. He wrote to me that necessary steps would be taken. However, so far nothing has been done in this regard. It should be done now.

The author is a former Union Minister.

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