The Maharashtra education department has asked its officials to ensure that all schools read the preamble to the Constitution of India every morning during the school assembly and also display its content prominently on campus.
Schools recently received a letter issued by the directorate of secondary education on September 22 stating that all schools in Maharashtra, irrespective of their managements or mediums of instruction, must begin their day by reading the preamble: “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic…”
The objective is to get students familiarised with the Constitution, stated the letter.
JS Saharia, the then additional chief secretary, had issued similar instructions to schools in 2013, but many didn’t follow it. “This is a reminder for schools to follow these instructions received by the Government of India,” said NK Jarag, director, Maharashtra State Council for Educational Research and Training (MSCERT), adding, “In case, schools aren’t following them, they should do so from now on.”
In Mumbai, only government-aided schools have been reading the preamble daily. “Since we are an aided school, we have been following this practice for the past few years, but there was no compulsion. Now, it looks like the department wants this to be implemented in all schools,” said Anil Bornare, senior teacher, Swami Muktananda High School, Chembur.
On the other hand, most private, unaided schools students only recite the pledge, the national anthem or the Vande Mataram, said principals. “We weren’t told to read out the preamble during the prayers,” said Rohan Bhat, chairperson of Children’s Academy Schools in Kandivli and Malad. Bhat said that he was yet to see the letter.
Some schools have complained that reading the preamble will lengthen the morning assembly’s duration. However, Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Lines, said, “To accommodate the preamble, we will not recite the pledge during the morning assembly. Reading out the preamble will make children aware about our Constitution. They should know that we are Indians first.”
Educators said that reading out the preamble will only be a token gesture and won’t convey the importance of the Constitution to the students. “The values of Constitution can be imbibed in children through skits and poems, among other such activities. Merely reciting it every day will only ensure that they learn it by rote,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the Parent-Teachers’ Association.