Thousands in Goa Demand English as Medium of Instruction

Panaji, Mar 22 (IANS): Thousands of people, mostly parents of school-going children and nearly all of Goa's Catholic legislators, converged here Monday demanding that grants must be given to primary schools offering English as the medium of instruction.

The rally organised by the Forum for Rights of Children's Education (FORCE), comes in the wake of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which envisions the child's mother tongue as the medium of instruction - Konkani in case of Goa.

The act is scheduled to be ratified in the state assembly soon.

"The parents have the right to choose what medium their child should study in. The government should de-link grants from medium of instruction clause. Grants should also be given to schools offering English as a medium of instruction, not just Konkani or Marathi," said Savio Lopes, secretary of FORCE.

The rally attracted around 15,000 people, who had braved the blistering March heat.

The Goa government in 1991 had announced its decision to grant aid only to primary schools where the medium of instruction is either Konkani or Marathi, keeping English medium schools off the list.

Most Catholic Church-run schools in Goa had then shifted to Konkani medium for want of government aid.

This in turn, led to a spurt in the number of private schools offering primary education in English at exorbitant fees.

Former speaker Tomazinho Cardozo, who was headmaster of a diocesan-run school, said: "This is a conspiracy against diocesan schools. The circular denying grants to English medium schools also says that there should be no more permissions for the starting of private English schools.

But since then more than 127 private English medium schools have come up with the permission of the government. It is to put down the diocesan schools."

Most schools operated by the Archdiocesan Board of Education, a Church run-body, will not receive grants if they adopt English as the medium of instruction.

Goa has a Catholic population of nearly 26 percent and the Roman Catholic Church is very active in the social and educational sectors.

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