Govt exploring ways to resolve mother tongue issue, says CM

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Bangalore: The State government is exploring the possibility of bringing in legislation to ensure Kannada or mother tongue is the medium of instruction in unaided primary schools, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Friday.

Speaking after a marathon discussion with litterateurs and eminent personalities on the State’s next step of action following the recent Supreme Court ruling that the State cannot impose mother tongue as the medium of instruction on unaided primary schools, Siddaramaiah said a final decision on taking the legislation route will be taken after consultation with legal and education experts.

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The apex court had last week upheld a Karnataka High Court judgement striking down an executive order issued by the State government in 1994 to impose Kannada or mother tongue as the medium of instruction on primary schools from Classes I to IV stating that it infringed upon the right to freedom of expression and speech.

Siddaramaiah said the State government would simultaneously file a review petition in the Supreme Court seeking a review of the order.
Besides, the State government was planning to place the matter before the next National Development Council meeting as the order affected not only Karnataka but also all states.

Karnataka will also try to evolve a national consensus on whether an amendment to the Constitution was required to ensure mother tongue is the medium of instruction in primary schools.

Siddaramaiah said the State government will evince opinion from chief ministers and education ministers of other states in this regard.

Advocate General Ravi Verma Kumar said with education being on the concurrent list, the State can explore the possibility of bringing state amendments to the Right to Education Act to restore the primacy of mother tongue while imparting education in primary schools.
Section 29 of the Act, which pertains to curriculum, can be amended to specifically state that mother tongue should be the medium of instruction in schools.

Jnanapith awardee U R Ananthmurthy said equality cannot be ushered in in society if there was no uniform education policy.

The order of the Supreme Court came in the way of having a uniform education policy, he said. He said the order was “unscientific” and was not written in the “interest of the child”.

Another Jnanapith awar­dee Chandrashekara Kambara said an expert legal panel should be appointed to explore all possibility of restoring the primacy of mother tongue. If required, the issue should be taken up in Parliament.

Litterateur Girish Karnad said the government should create an atmosphere that builts confidence among the people that opting Kannada in schools would not deprive them of academic and financial benefits in life.

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