An impressive crowd of around 15,000 converged at Panjim’s Azad Maidan on Monday evening to demand that the government provide grants to schools imparting education in English medium at the primary school level and the demand is likely to be accepted given the fact that Education Minister Babush Monserrate was also present for the meet.
Gathering under the banner of Forum for Rights of Children’s Education (FORCE), the gathering demanded that the government announce its decision over their demand by 25th March so that the same can be implemented for the next academic year.
Former Headmaster and former speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly Tomazinho Cardozo said that Marathi and Konkani should continue as a compulsory language while permitting English as the medium of instruction at primary level.
A little over two decades ago, in 1990 the government had made regional language as a compulsory medium of instruction and decided not to permit any new English medium primary schools in the State. However, since then nearly 120 English medium primary schools have been permitted by the government with the only difference being that they do not receive any grants from the government towards the salaries for the staff or rental of the premises as is done with primary schools imparting education in regional languages.
Tomazinho who is at the forefront of the agitation to recognize Konkani in the Roman script as official language of Goa, asserted that instructions in English medium will help enhance Konkani, the language of the State.
Parents have been demanding instruction in English language arguing that it will enhance their ward’s chances of getting not only employment but also admissions for higher education in places other than Goa.
Secretary of FORCE Savio Lopes in his address pointed out that though the Right To Education bill enacted by the Centre recommends education at the elementary level to be in the mother tongue, he also pointed out that this was to be implemented “as far as practicable” in the act itself.
Speakers at the meet argued that English is a globally accepted language and pointed out that various nations are pursuing English while at the same time promoting their own regional languages. The general refrain was that learning English has become an absolute necessity for a better future.
Some speakers took pains to clarify that demanding education in English does not tantamount to be being denationalized or de-cultured but that it was a demand in the best interest of the next generation that has to be prepared to face global competition.
Various elected representatives including ministers like PWD Minister Churchill Alemao, Revenue Minister Jose Philip D’Souza, former MLA Micky Pacheco, MLAs Agnelo Fernandes, Francis Silveira and Aleixo Reginald ourenco were present for the meeting.
It may be recalled that Babush Monserrate had informed the Goa Legislative Assembly as it began its budget session that a decision on the medium of instruction will be taken during the current session itself.
FORCE had earlier submitted a memorandum to the government having 51,372 signatures demanding a change in the medium of instructions and the signatures were collected through the various Parent-Teacher Associations.