A clause in a new government order placing restrictions on permissions for new unaided primary English-medium schools in the state has raised concerns over limiting options for students.
The order, issued on September 25 by the school education department, has said only one new primary English-medium school per taluka, up to 15 per corporation jurisdiction, and up to three per municipal council jurisdiction, will be granted permission. Depending on the population size of the corporation or council, the number of new schools that will be allowed could be lower.
The government says the restriction on the number of schools has been placed after looking at the huge number of proposals received for such schools. The department has already received more than 7,000 proposals since 2010; none of the proposals have been cleared, though around 3,100 of these applications have been sent to a committee for review. "How can we give so many approvals? We have to put a cap," said J Saharia, principal secretary of the school education department. He said the approval process was on and would be completed 'as early as possible'.
But, school education department officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said the cap was placed after concerns that if permissions were granted to English-medium schools, students would leave Marathi-medium schools to join them. The new order would not, however, affect schools that are already functional.
Groups and individuals said there was a big demand for English medium schools. "We submitted our proposal two years ago, yet nothing has happened," said an official who has sent a proposal for an English-medium school in Nanded. "There is a demand for unaided English medium schools. Government schools are in bad shape."
Others argued that as these schools would be entirely unaided, the government could not restrict their growth. The matter had previously come up in the state assembly.