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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Urdu schools battle book, teacher shortage

No textbooks, lack of teachers and a decreasing number of students, these are some of the problems plaguing Urdu-medium schools in the state.

education Updated: Feb 13, 2019 18:54 IST
Nikita Bishnoi
Nikita Bishnoi
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Students and teachers at the government elementary school (Urdu medium) at Jalupura, Jaipur.
Students and teachers at the government elementary school (Urdu medium) at Jalupura, Jaipur.(HT photo)

No textbooks, lack of teachers and a decreasing number of students, these are some of the problems plaguing Urdu-medium schools in Rajasthan.

Unlike ‘madarsas’ where the community is responsible to run the teachings, Urdu-medium schools teach Urdu, mathematics, environment studies, English and Hindi in Urdu, and the administration for these schools is monitored by the state education department.

Seven Urdu-medium schools function in the state, while five years ago, more than 30 were running, said Ameen Kayamkhani, president, Urdu Shikshak Sangh, Rajasthan. While four of them are in Jaipur, three are in Ajmer district. “The major blow to the number of these schools came when the previous government decided to merge several of the schools with Hindi-medium schools,” said Kayamkhani.

The four schools in Jaipur are in Kamnigaran, Neelgaran, Maulanasaheb and Jalupura. Abdul Waheed, principal of the government elementary school, Kamnigaran, said since 2006-2007 no books for Urdu-medium schools have been printed, and teachers have to translate Hindi textbooks to Urdu to teach. “In the past ten years the department has not been printing books in Urdu for various subjects to be taught in the Urdu-medium schools. Consequently, the teachers have to keep notes in Urdu taking references from the Hindi textbook. There is an extreme shortage of books for the Urdu-medium schools and the administration does not seem concerned,” said Waheed.

“The intentions of the government to shut down the Urdu-medium schools became evident since there are several Urdu teachers who are qualified to teach the students. But, they are posted in other schools even as the Urdu-medium schools face lack of teachers,” he added.

The students studying in these schools are mostly the residents of the nearby areas. As several of the Urdu-medium government schools were merged into the Hindi-medium schools, the parents sending their children to these schools are presently looking for alternative options.

“Education is free even in the Hindi-medium government schools, but we sent our children to the Urdu-medium schools to let our children learn their ‘mother tongue’. Yes my children learnt Hindi and English too at the schools but getting a hang of their mother tongue is important. Now that the school has been closed, the residents of the area who sent their children to the Urdu-medium schools are also looking for alternative options,” said, Abdul Waheed, a daily wage labourer and father of three children who study at government school, Pahadganj. The school was merged into Hindi medium during the tenure of the previous government.

“Urdu is our culture and mother tongue. It is important to learn that. Now that our school has become Hindi-medium, the students do suffer,” said Vajida Tabassum, teacher at the government school, Pahadganj.

The state education department says vacancies for teachers eligible to teach in Urdu-medium schools are expected to be filled in the recruitment of the primary teachers recruitment Level-1. “It becomes difficult for the department to print 200-400 books for the Urdu-medium. The students in such schools are very less and printing books for such a small strength of students is often not feasible. We often provide the teachers with the photo copies of the books though which they get further photo copied and distribute to the students,” said Vishnu Datt Swamy, joint director, school education.

Principals report a 10%-20% decrease in the strength of the students in these schools every year. “The Urdu-medium schools have a huge potential in keeping the language alive. However, due to the unconcerned behaviour of the government towards these schools, we have been witnessing a sharp decrease of almost 50% in the strength of the students in the last five years in our schools,” said T Ismail, principal of the government elementary school, Neelgran, Ramganj.

“Urdu-medium schooling was one of the biggest hopes for the language. Since ancient and pure forms of the language have been dying, another hope to build a child’s foundation on the language seems to be dead,” said Kayamkhani.

First Published: Feb 13, 2019 18:23 IST