KOLKATA: In retaliation to Centre’s plan of making Hindi compulsory in all CBSE schools till Class 10, the West Bengal government has declared Bengali as a mandatory subject for all students till Class 10 in all schools in the state irrespective of their Board affiliations.
Education minister Partha Chatterjee declared that all students have to choose three languages from Class 1, of which one has to be Bengali (or Bangla). “The students have to choose three languages from a pool of Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Nepali, Santhali and English, out of which one has to be Bengali irrespective of the mother tongue of the student. The non-Bengali medium schools have to make arrangements to impart education in Bengali. The rule applies to schools following CBSE and ICSE boards as well,” he said.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stated on social media that Bengal respects all languages of all states and that the three-language formula would enable students to reach regional, national and international standards. “India is a vast country and the strength of our nation is unity in diversity. We must respect every language and also give every regional language its importance. We believe in the freedom of choice and the three-language formula,” she wrote.
“Students have the freedom to take any language of their choice as their first, second or third language. If a student chooses one among Bengali, Hindi, English, Urdu, Punjabi, Nepali or Santhali as first language, he/she may opt for two other languages of their choice. One of the three languages has to be Bangla. The other two are dependent on what the student chooses,” she added.
However, the decision was not welcomed in the hills of the north, where Mamata’s rival Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) termed the move as ‘linguistic hegemony’. “Imposition of Bangla on Nepali-speaking residents of the hills is not accepted. Nepali is a recognised language and we will fight back against the linguistic and cultural hegemony of Bengal,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told New Indian Express.