Tamil Tribune

Tamil in CBSE Schools

(also Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Oriya, Telugu)

Inia Pandian

TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2015 (ID. 2015-05-01)
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OUTLINE

Executive Summary
Preface

1. Background

2. Tamil Compulsory in CBSE Schools Too

3. Some CBSE Schools "Disobey" the State Government Order

4. Solutions

5. What Can Parents Do?

6. Tamil Nadu State Government

7. A Role for Tamil Organizations

8. Final Words

9. A Final Question

ABBREVIATION

CBSE - Central Board of Secondary Education


Executive Summary: Some CBSE schools are not implementing the 2014 Tami Nadu State Government order that Tamil must be taught in CBSE schools Class I starting from the school year 2015-2016. Author offers a solution and asks the government to stop CBSE schools from enrolling Class I students until they agree to teach Tamil. If Hindi is compulsory in CBSE schools in Hindi states, then how dare you oppose requiring Tamil at CBSE schools in Tamil Nadu?

Preface: This article is about the situation in Tamil Nadu CBSE schools in 2015. Lessons learned from this experience may be helpful in other states that may want to teach at CBSE schools their state languages (Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi. Oriya, Telugu, etc.).


1. Background

Tamil Nadu State Government enacted the Tamil Nadu Tamil Learning Act in June 2006. This Act required schools to teach Tamil language as a compulsory subject in Class I starting from 2006. Some schools asked the court to rule the Act illegal but the court held the Act legal. (I would like to clarify that the Act only requires that Tamil be taught as a subject; schools may teach other subjects in English.) Next year Tamil was compulsory in both Class I and II, and so on By the school year of 2015-2016, Tamil would be compulsory from Class 1 to 10. CBSE schools that come under the Indian central government's Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) were exempted from the Act. 

2. Tamil Compulsory in CBSE Schools Too

Tamil Nadu State School Education Department issued a government order on September 18, 2014 making Tamil a compulsory subject in Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools also. Central Schools, This order does not apply to Central Schools, Modern Schools and Military Schools (Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya Vidyalaya and Sainik School) because Indian central government's Central Act of 35 (2009) lists these schools under the “specified category”, and thus exempt from the state government order.. 

3. Some CBSE Schools "Disobey" the State Government Order

There are over 500 CBSE schools in Tamil Nadu as of 2015. Tamil newspaper Dinamalar (April 16, 2015) reported that some of these schools have not yet hired Tamil teachers. Some of these schools claim that they teach Tamil only in Class I, they cannot pay the Tamil teachers full salary and so have difficulty hiring Tamil teachers. (We will offer a solution to this problem inn the next section.) Some of these schools have advised parents to hire private tutors to teach Tamil to their children. Will these schools tell parents that they could not teach Hindi or English or mathematics because they could not find teachers and so they should get tutors to teach these subjects to their children? 

Dinamalar (April 16, 2015) also reported that Tamil Nadu State education officials are not checking up on CBSE schools to see if Tamil is taught. This is unacceptable. Education Minister must personally interfere and order the officials to do their duties without further delay. Schools that cannot teach Tamil in Class I must not be allowed to enroll students in Class I.

4. Solutions

We offer here some possible solutions. We do not know that any of these solutions could be implemented or not. We just try to be helpful. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the schools to teach the required subjects, including Tamil. If they cannot perform this function, they should not enroll students in Class I. Will the government allow a CBSE school to enroll students if it does not have English, Hindi or science teachers? Treat Tamil the same way. Here are some possible temporary solutions.

1) Ask other teachers to teach Tamil in Class I. An English teacher or mathematics teacher who knows Tamil can easily teach Class I Tamil. They would not be able to teach Tamil at higher grades but Class I Tamil may not be difficult to handle. It is far better than not teaching Tamil at all.

2) Hire Tamil teachers who could also teach other subjects for Class I. I went to a school where the same teacher taught multiple subjects. 

3) Hire retired teachers (not necessarily retired Tamil teachers) in the area as part-time teachers. Teaching Class I Tamil is not very difficult.

These are all temporary arrangements for this school year only. Any school which has not arranged to hire Tamil teachers for Class I and II at least 2 months before the start of the next school year (2016-2017) must not be allowed to enroll students for Class I and II. Tamil Nadu government should be strict in this matter. It is the responsibility of schools to have qualified teachers for all subjects. No school would say that we do not have English teachers and parents should hire private tutors to teach English. Why should that happen for Tamil? Schools should do whatever it takes to provide quality Tamil teaching or stop enrolling students. Tamil Nadu government should enforce its government order fully.

5. What Can Parents Do?

If schools ask parents to hire private tutors to teach Tamil, bill the schools for the tuition fee. Your children have to pass Tamil in the same way as English or science or any other required subject. It is the school's responsibility to provide quality education in all required subjects. (I do not know if the CBSE school will pay parents for the tuition.)

6. Tamil Nadu State Government

I was rather disappointed that Tamil Nadu State education officials have not checked to see if CBSE schools have started teaching Tamil (Dinamalar; April 16, 2015). Education officials had explained this lack of enforcement is due to the current heavy load of work because of the final examinations in state board schools. They had promised to check the CBSE schools soon. We hope that they would do so at the very earliest. 

CBSE schools had at least 6 months to hire teachers (The government order was issued in September 2014 and it is now April 2015). If these schools can teach English from 10000 miles away and Hindi from 1000 miles away, they can and should teach Tamil from 10 feet away. There should be no exemptions. Schools that cannot teach Tamil must not be allowed to enroll students. Will any CBSE school be allowed to operate if it says that it cannot teach English or science or mathematics? 

7. A Role for Tamil Organizations

Local Tamil organizations may play a supportive role by monitoring whether nearby CBSE schools have Tamil teachers and if they are providing quality Tamil education. They may report it to education officials. CBSE schools have no obligation to talk to private organizations. Ultimately it is the responsibility of state education officials to assure that CBSE students are learning Tamil at the same level of proficiency as state board students.

If state educations officials are not enforcing the government order fully, Tamil organizations may report it to newspapers. They may also bring it to the attention of the local MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly), political parties and the state education minister.

8. Final Words

Finally we have a state government that has issued a government order that would ensure that all students in Tamil Nadu would learn Tamil (except for Central Schools, Modern Schools and Military Schools (Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya Vidyalaya and Sainik School) that are listed as “specified category” under Indian central government's Central Act of 35 (2009)). This is a critical juncture. Let us not allow some CBSE schools to circumvent the government order under one excuse or other. If we are not vigilant at this critical juncture and implement the government order fully, students will continue to graduate from schools not learning Tamil. Stop CBSE schools that do not teach Tamil from enrolling Class I students. These schools will find a way to teach Tamil.

Tamil Nadu State Education Department should enforce the order fully with no exemptions. Tamil organizations may monitor the situation and report the matter to education officials, newspapers, politicians and ministers to assure that Tamil is taught in CBSE schools.

9. A Final Question

Can any student graduate from a CBSE school in a Hindi state without learning Hindi (irrespective of where the parents are from and whether they intend to live in the Hindi state permanently)? The answer is "no", and we fully support teaching Hindi to people living in Hindi states. Then how dare you oppose requiring Tamil at CBSE schools in Tamilnadu?

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