While, the state government is hoping to make Marathi compulsory till Class 7, schools following the international and national education boards in the city are teaching Marathi till Class 5 or 7, but some of institutions do not want to make the language a must for students coming in from other states and countries.
Schools affiliated to boards like Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and international boards such as Cambridge International Examination (CIE) or International Baccalaureate (IB) usually have a large amount of students who have moved from outside the state.
Rajhans Vidyalaya, Andheri, for instance, offers Sanskrit in lieu of Marathi, as majority of the students have come from other states. “We are unable to appoint a Marathi teacher as there are no takers for it in our school,” said Deepshikha Srivastava, principal of the school. “Our students belong to families with transferable jobs so they prefer learning a national language rather than a state language, as they might have to move to another state every few years.”
Similarly, Apeejay School, Kharghar, offers basic Marathi from Classes 3 to 4, while it is offered as an optional language with Sanskrit for Classes 6 to 8. “Local students opt for Marathi, those who want to move out of the state go for Sanskrit,” said Indu Mathur, principal of the school. “All schools are offering Marathi, only the floating population doesn’t opt for it. There is no need to make it compulsory for all.”
Schools said that they will have to follow the government rules. “Even though we may be affiliated to non-state board, we are governed by the Maharashtra Employees of Private Schools (MEPS) Act and so we will have to follow whatever the government decides,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal, St Mary’s School (ICSE), Mazgaon. “We are in favour of teaching the state language but there should be a provision for an exemption for students who are coming from a different state.”
On the other hand, international and ICSE schools said that they were willing to offer Marathi as a compulsory subject till Class 7. “Cambridge tells us to follow the law of the land,” said Kavita Aggarwal, chairperson, Mumbai International Schools Association (MISA) and chief academic advisor, JBCN International Group of Schools. “Schools that have students with foreign passports, who can’t read or write Marathi, are taught only reading, listening and speaking skills, writing is not emphasized for such students.”
Some principals said that other countries too have made their languages compulsory. “Internationally, most countries have a national policy that their language is mandatory in schools, so why should we not make Marathi compulsory?” said Vandana Lulla, principal, Podar International School (IB), Santacruz.