A law that makes Kannada a compulsory subject in schools may not be mandated in schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), authorities have now realized.
The state government asked the deputy directors of public Instruction (DDPI) in districts to enforce the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2015. This requires "all schools" to teach Kannada as a compulsory subject -either as first or second language -from Classes 1 to 10 in a phased manner.
Students across schools must study Kannada subject as a language was a policy decision the government took after facing defeat in a two-decade-old legal battle in the Supreme Court on making Kannada the medium of instruction.
However, officers say they can do pretty little if schools refuse to comply. Not only is the Act silent on action against non-compliance, a syllabus-related matter on making Kannada a compulsory subject will not apply to CBSE and ICSE schools. "Kannada is not a problem in schools following state syllabus. But enforcing the rule in CBSE and ICSE schools is difficult because they are not under our purview," DDPI (Bengaluru South) Ashwatha Narayana Gowda said.
The Karnataka Education Act was amended to bring CBSE and ICSE schools under the state government control only for enforcement of child safety provisions and regulation of fees. "The state does not get a handle on (CBSE and ICSE) schools over a syllabus issue. If any school were to resist offering Kannada as either first or second language, we will have to find ways to see what can be done," additional chief secretary (primary and secondary education) Ajay Seth said,
Most schools are already offering Kannada as one of three languages that students can choose to study, Delhi Public School board of management member Mansoor Ali Khan said. "We are for the promotion of the local language. But teaching Kannada as the first language will require Kannada to be the medium of instruction. The ideal solution is to let the three-language policy continue.
Parents need to be oriented on the importance of choosing the right language out of the three. "Invariably, children will learn Hindi as the third language. But the second language is the one that will be taught from Class 1 to 10.ICSE offers more than 40-second language options," B Gayathri Devi, principal at Little Flower Public School in South Bengaluru, said.