‘I had opposed English-medium classes in government schools’

Proposal was not included in the Common Minimum Programme: Siddaramaiah

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday said he had opposed the coalition government’s move to introduce English-medium classes in its schools and added that there was no change in his stand even today.

“I feel primary education should be taught in the mother tongue. It is not correct for the government to start English-medium schools,” he observed.

Speaking after inaugurating the Nrupathunga Kannada Science and Commerce PU College at Ramakrishnanagar here, Mr. Siddaramaiah said introduction of English-medium classes in government schools was not included in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP). “As the chairman of the [coalition coordination] committee, I will speak to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy once again as the issue is a policy decision,” he told the gathering.

Referring to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the State cannot impose medium of instruction, Mr. Siddaramaiah said he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and met him personally with a memorandum, requesting him to convene a meeting of all Chief Ministers to bring an amendment to the Constitution on introducing mother tongue as medium of instruction in primary classes in private schools. “But he [Modi] did not act. Without the constitutional amendment, nothing can be done on the issue,” he added.

He said the States have to bring pressure on the Centre on the issue and step up efforts to safeguard the mother tongue.

Earlier, Kannada Development Authority chairman S.G. Siddaramaiah said, “By launching 100 English-medium schools, more than 10,000 Kannada schools will close down. The move will result in dropouts, especially among girls in rural areas. Kannada pride and identity is at stake.” He said the government has not acted against 32 private schools in Bengaluru city which refused to teach Kannada. The schools have challenged the government, but officials have failed to act. He said no MPs from Karnataka spoke on the injustice done to Kannadigas when less than 10% of people from Karnataka were appointed in banks while 90% were outsiders in nationalised banks functioning in the State.

Kannada activist Pa Mallesh hit out at Mr. Kumaraswamy, saying, “The government is acting at the behest of bureaucrats. There is no commitment in this government”.

When Kannada activists objected to the delay in withdrawing cases against them, Mr. Siddaramaiah said he would speak to the Home Minister. “I had withdrawn many cases when I was the Chief Minister. Some cases might have gone unnoticed.”

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