Tuesday 26 March 2019

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Villagers oppose saffron education

 

Villagers in Goa are up in arms against saffronisation of primary education, using backdoor tactics. The field of education has thus become a battlefield here.

The first day of the reopening of the schools after month-long summer vacation - 6 June - witnessed villagers restraining new private managements from taking over their old government primary schools.

The BJP government's move to privatise around 50 schools by handing it over to the unregistered organisations like mahila mandal, cultural bodies and sports clubs has sparked a row.

Prof Subhash Velingkar, the local RSS leader, does not deny their plan to centrally manage these schools through Vidya Bharati, the educational institution of the Sangh Parivar. "We are doing it to preserve our culture", he claims.

The issue has arisen out of the government decision to close down these state-managed primary schools in the hinterland for want of students. Withdrawing the earlier decision to amalgamate these schools in the neighbouring schools, the state has secretly handed it over to the private organisations.

"Most of these organisations are bogus, unregistered and nothing to do with educational field. What is the logic behind allowing such institutions to run schools", asks Sanjay Raut, convenor of the newly formed Committee for the Protection of Government Primary Schools.

"The Sangh Parivar has floated such organisations overnight, making application with a request to allow them to set up private schools. The hidden agenda is to use the schools to propagate their Hindutva ideology", alleges Dr Sachin Kandolkar, a Marathi lecturer whose speech in a literary meet brought the issue to the fore.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar, a swayamsevak to the core, not only handed over the government premises to them at a meagre annual rent of one rupee, but also allowed them to complete formalities of registering the organisations within three months. They will however be not given any grants.

Goa's performance in educational field has been the best in the country, while its literacy rate has also been 76 per cent. Over 1280 primary schools are run in a tiny state, comprising of only 383 villages and 31 towns. Most of these state-run schools are Marathi medium, though the local spoken language is Konkani.

RSS leader Prof Velingkar claims that they have taken over these Marathi schools as English would otherwise wipe out Marathi language and Indian culture. Ramesh Gawas, president of the Rashtra Seva Dal, however alleges that it is a well-planned conspiracy to induce Hindutva culture among the children, under the guise of Marathi.

Vinayak Naik, president of the school managements' association, wonders why the government did not make this offer to the existing managements of private high schools. "The closure affects them since primary schools are their feeding schools", he observes.

Parrikar however feels nothing wrong in handing over schools to non-educational institutions, while denying having any knowledge of the RSS hand into it. Prof Velingkar however does not deny that most of them belong to the RSS.

As the agitation against privatisation of primary schools is picking up in villages, Parrikar has now threatened that he will not reopen the schools if he is forced to withdraw his decision of privatisation.

The state-level committee, on the other hand, has demanded to stay the privatisation decision till a proper re-survey is conducted in consultation with the educationists, lead high schools and villagers, in a democratic and transparent manner.






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