Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi on Wednesday staged a sit-in protest here demanding the withdrawal of the state government’s decision to teach science and mathematics in English in vernacular schools from class 3 onwards. The MLA, along with three other party colleagues including Raijor Dal working president Bhasco De Saikia, sat on a footpath beneath a statue of Dr B R Ambedkar outside the Assam Secretariat complex.
“The decisions to impart education in English in vernacular schools and not provincialising any schools in future are directly related to the future of the Assamese society,” Gogoi told reporters. He demanded that a special session of the Assam Assembly be convened to discuss these issues and urged the state government to organise a convention inviting all stakeholders to discuss the matter.
“Protests will take place across the state if our demand is not met. We want the state government to follow the National Education Policy, which emphasises the spread of local languages,” the MLA said. He also pointed out state Health Minister Keshab Mahanta’s recent statement that books for medical courses are being prepared in Assamese for the benefit of the students.
“What type of government is this? On one hand, it is gearing up to teach medical and engineering courses in Assamese, but at the same time turning towards English for mathematics and science for school students,” Gogoi said. Earlier, other Opposition political parties such as the Congress and Assam Jatiya Parishad had opposed the cabinet decisions, particularly making English the medium of instruction.
The cabinet of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had on July 28 decided that mathematics and science will be taught in English in all government and provincialised Assamese and other vernacular medium schools from the next academic year. The BJP-led Assam government had earlier said that provincialisation of schools and colleges will be stopped, while selected high schools currently under the state board will be transferred to the CBSE.
Provincialisation means taking over all liabilities of a non-government school, which was established with the sole purpose of imparting education to serve the society, for payment of salaries and other benefits to the teachers. On Monday, leading literary and student organisations in Assam demanded that the state government immediately withdraw its decisions.
The leadership of Asam Sahitya Sabha (ASS), Bodo Sahitya Sabha (BSS), All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) decided to submit a joint memorandum to the chief minister with their demand for revoking the decisions. The four groups also expressed their opposition to the introduction of dual medium in government schools, stopping of provincialisation of educational institutions and shifting the state board schools to CBSE. Another student body, Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS), also expressed its opposition to these decisions of the government.