Shamsher Khan is walking from Churu to Dandi, demanding implementation of the three-language formula
A march led by a government school teacher from Rajasthan’s Churu district to Dandi in Gujarat, raising the issues of linguistic minority students, has received massive support on the way. Activists, students and local community leaders have demanded that the Congress government in the State protect the right to education in the mother tongue.
The recent withdrawal of a controversial government order which had provided for only one “third language” teacher in government schools, has failed to satisfy the protesters. They point out that textbooks in Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi and Gujarati have not been supplied to over 20,000 government schools, and teachers have not been appointed in the current academic session.
Shamsher Khan, a teacher in Sahjusar of Churu district, set out on his march on November 1, retracing Mahatma Gandhi’s famous Dandi salt march of 1930. He has demanded a new staffing pattern in schools, regularisation of madrasa para-teachers, implementation of the three-language formula and creation of posts of minority language teachers in various institutions.
Mr. Khan, son of former Congress MLA from Churu Bhalu Khan, fell sick earlier this week near Rajsamand because of exertion on the long trek. Though the march is likely to enter Gujarat on Saturday, no government representatives have met the participants so far to hear their grievances.
Several sitting and former MLAs of Congress have written to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, urging that Mr Khan’s demands be given consideration. The people in the Shekhawati region have held demonstrations in support of the march at several places and submitted memorandums to the administration.
CPI(M) State Secretary Amra Ram led a demonstration in Sikar on Wednesday. The protesters alleged that the State government was gradually erasing Urdu education in Classes VI to X and was forcing minority children to opt for Sanskrit as the third language.
Rajasthan Urdu Shikshak Sangh president Ameen Kayamkhani said here on Friday that the Congress government had withdrawn the September 2 order, which had stopped the appointment of teachers of more than one third language in schools, in view of the upcoming panchayat elections. The validity of withdrawal only until further orders had raised doubts about the government’s intentions, he said.
Minister of State for Education Govind Singh Dotasra has since affirmed that the education in mother tongue would be imparted to all students.
The activists have demanded the restoration of a 2004 State policy, which had provided for appointment of a third language teacher on the availability of a minimum of 10 students in a class and a total of 40 minority students in the school.
Mr. Kayamkhani said the State government’s failure to impart education to students in their mother tongue amounted to an infringement of the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, and was contrary to the I.K. Gujral Committee’s recommendations of 1975 for safeguarding the Urdu-speaking minorities.
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