ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Politics of Education in Maharashtra

The agenda of the Maharashtra government is to further tighten its hold on the universities in the state. Another unstated item on the agenda is to increase the presence of private college managements on university bodies.

Education in Maharashtra is in the news, for the wrong reasons though. First, it was the teaching of English in schools. All the hype about globalisation, foreign direct investment, knowledge-based industry and the resulting competition with the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka has made the ruling classes in Maharashtra suddenly wake up to the importance of English language. The government has decided that the language should be taught from standard I in all schools. While deciding this, there was hardly any effort to study its desirability or even its feasibility or to consult the sections of the society most affected by such a decision – the teachers, the educationists, the students – or society at large. The politicians know best what is good for them.

This would obviously require a large number of teachers who know English. It is decided that teachers would be given a crash course in English. If the teachers can learn the basics of the language, enough to teach it, through such a course, by the same logic, why can’t the students do the same? At present the language is taught from the fifth standard onwards. In spite of eight years of ‘study’ the linguistic abilities of a student seeking entry into a college is, to say the least, pathetic. How can four more years of the same medicine improve the situation? The problem at present in rural schools is the high drop-out rate of students, especially those belonging to the weaker sections of society. The new rule is bound to make the problem more serious. Actually, what is needed is, not more, but better teaching of English (or for that matter of any subject). This leads us to the second decision which is in the offing.

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