Unaided, minority schools in the city said they will oppose the state government’s plans to make Marathi compulsory till Class 7 in all schools.
The Unaided Schools Forum, which represents around 250 institutions, is waiting for a government resolution (GR) before writing to the government to not go ahead with the proposal. The schools said that the government cannot enforce such a rule on minority schools.
“Our schools don’t have a problem in teaching Marathi - most of them are already doing it - but the state cannot make Marathi compulsory for minority schools,” said SC Kedia, honorary secretary of the forum.
Minority institutions said they had Constitutional protection to promote education. Article 30 (i) of the Constitution gives minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
Kedia said, “According to the Constitution, minority schools have the right to teach their own language in the schools. Students in a Gujarati minority school, for instance, might want to learn that language instead of Marathi.”
Although even non-state board schools are already teaching Marathi, most of them only offer basic Marathi. “Some schools teach basic communication skills in Marathi. If the government continues to allow this, schools will not have to oppose ,” said Rohan Bhat, chairperson, Children’s Academy Group of Schools, Kandivli and Malad.
Some academicians, meanwhile, pointed out that there is no demand for Marathi in higher education even in the state board. “Students usually prefer to not study Marathi after Class 10 and opt for subjects such as IT and electronics to improve scores,” said Marie Fernandes, principal, St Andrew’s College, Bandra.