Reality Check India

Decoding the Goa crisis – why cant India do education right?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on September 1, 2016

In a very significant development, on Aug 31 2016 the popular RSS chief in Goa – Subhash Velingkar quit support for the BJP and decided to find other political parties to support for the upcoming 2017 Assembly elections.

 

“The political front which BBSM would be floating will go it alone in the poll. We can join hands with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) if they withdraw support to BJP,” RSS Goa chief Subhash Velingkar told reporters.

BBSM has been demanding that regional languages (Konkani and Marathi) be made the Medium of Instruction in Goa’s elementary schools, and Government should stop the grants of English medium schools.

Source : Indian Express

 

I am writing this short post – in order to preempt yet another misinformation campaign from Indian mainstream media. There is simply no way they will tell you what is really going on in Goa. Almost all of them are portraying (see Indian Express link above) that is issue is because Velingkar is opposing English medium and not something else. In that ‘something else’ – lies the real story. Read on.

The brewing medium of instruction (MOI) issue in Goa

Since the 90’s – Goa’s policy has been to only fund Konkani and Marathi medium primary schools.   This does not mean you cant have English medium schools – Goa has a thriving English medium school network in the private sphere. You just cant get any funding  from the government.  This was the policy up until 2011.

At the start of 2011 ; the situation in the aided school sector was   Konkani (135), Marathi (40), English (Nil because by rule English medium cant be aided). [1]

The Congress govt in 2011 – responding to various claims by the church and by the parents – decided to allow aid for English medium as well. Guess what happened? About 130-140 schools from the Marathi and Konkani medium immediately took advantage and switched over to English medium.  Almost all of them ,  132 of 140 of  these schools are run by the Church. This is entirely expected because at the end of the day people want English medium. This is evidenced by the fact that in Goa’s private sector almost all schools are English medium !

In 2012, the BJP under the Manohar Parrikar (now the defence minister in Modi’s cabinet) won the Goa assembly. This was due to a strategic alliance with the Catholic Church as well as a promise made to the RSS that this policy (of funding English medium) would be reversed.

Next – the BJP under Parrikkar  did this.

On Jun 6 2012, the govt issued a notification saying that henceforth only Konkani and Marathi schools will be funded by the govt BUT the schools that have switched over the English Medium (just one year ago) would continue to be funded.  But that is not all – the notification also said that only “minority / certain institutions that shifted to English medium in 2011 would continue to receive funds”.  The reason cited was “students should not suffer” [2]

This predictably blew the RSS fuse under Velingkar.  Then two opposing groups formed – the first one called BBSM Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (wanted cancellation of aided to these minority) and on the other side FORCE – a group of largely Christian educationalists who stood to lose if grants were withdrawn.

So this is the back story. In 2016 there have been hectic parleys between BBSM and the BJP Govt but all appear to be in vain as the govt under Lakshmikant Parsekar who asserted that church run english medium would alone get govt funds – His statement on Aug 10 2016  “The grants to English medium minority schools will remain uninterrupted,” Parsekar said.

Analysis of the MOI issues

Many people have wondered why India even after 70 year of Independence cannot seem to do education right. The most basic of things. For this blog and thousands of supporters of the #core right agenda – this issue is right here on top. The central anomaly in India is that people pass laws and comment ignoring this basic reality.  In India, the split in edu sector is not private vs public but minority vs non-minority.   So what happens is each time you pass a law or make rules curbing some autonomy – you can only apply it to the non-minority group.  This is the root of the problem.

BBSM got it right and wrong :  This is an issue on which most people on the Medium of Instruction get it wrong.  That debate can only be built if you have an underlying uniformity principle.  We must appreciate Velingkar for his principled stand.  He understands that MOI can only be achieved by coercion and that “fine , we’ll coerce only the Goan Hindus” does not appeal to him. The reality is Goan people want English and in an atmosphere of freedom they would pick English.   So BBSM rightfully finds itself in an absurd position – 132 state funded English medium schools run by Church cannot sit along side coerced Konkani run non-minority schools. The latter will be destroyed because people left to their own devices will pick the English medium !!  A side note : Even if we dismantle the central fabric of Idea of India – that is state preferences to minorities in education – MOI is still a big deal. Unlike Korea or Japan or Taiwan to impose regional language of medium is doubly hard because we already have inherited a thriving English base. You have to coerce at two levels 1) enforce that no school does English 2) and then impose the local language.  You cant do that uniformly due to the minority situation. Also remember that in India minority participation in edu is not peripheral or isolated. They are the dominant players and can easily supply all of the capacity twice over. This is what happened in Karnataka too ; the Congress govt to impose Kannada faltered because a few astute lawyers raised the minority issue and pre-empted it.

Parrikar got it right and wrong:  BJP won Goa largely due to its deal with the Catholic Church. The central part of this deal was likely to be the continuation of the Congress govt aid to the Church schools. So he feels obligated to honour that deal ; besides even if he withdrew the grants, the schools may be able to restore them using the courts. It is unfortunate however that BJP would extend the aid to only minorities while ignoring the RSS workers.

What is the solution ?

This Goa episode is just a small even in the larger scheme of sectarianism in Indian educaiton. There can be no reform possible unless this is addressed head on. Starting with the repeal of the 93rd Constitution Amendment, and the Right to Education Act. Without this uniformity principle I fail to understand how you can come up with “New education policy” etc.  The twin principles of #core right are 1) if you cant do it for all, do it for none  2) if you give govt money to religions it must be on strict pro-rata basis.

This is complicated by the Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar commitment in Parliament to not to ‘tinker with”  Minorities.  [4]

 

 

References :

[1] Goa MOI policy note http://www.education.goa.gov.in/cir13/State%20Govt%20decision%20on%20MOI%20policy.pdf

[2] Goa govt MOI circular dated 18/6/2012 http://www.education.goa.gov.in/Cir_MoI1.pdf

[3] Herald Goa “Grants will be given to English Medium Minority schools” http://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/Monsoon-Assembly-Session/Grants-will-be-given-to-English-minority-schools-says-Parsekar-/105027.html

[4] No tinkering with minority institutions – Prakash Javadekar http://www.deccanherald.com/content/564145/no-tinkering-minority-institutions-govt.html

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