– Doubting Thomas
“Navodaya schools follow three language formula against the two language formula followed in Tamil Nadu since 1968. And three language formula means imposition of Hindi, which is against the avowed policy of the state.”
Of late, the disturbing tendency of the judiciary taking over the function of the government is being noticed with growing alarm, owing to the binding nature of the court verdict. A glowing example is the order of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court to the Government of Tamil Nadu to open Navodaya schools in the State by providing them with land and other facilities.
The submission of the advocate representing the State that this concerned the educational policy of the State and his demand for time to enlighten the court on the policy was ignored. Rightly, political parties committed to the rights and the self respect of the State and the Dravidar Kazhagam have come down heavily on the highhanded and unwarranted action of the court and have urged the government of Tamil Nadu prefer an appeal in the Supreme Court.
The whole country, why, the whole world knows that Tamil Nadu is second to none in spreading education. The revolution, as it can be aptly called, started during the rule of Kamaraj. He came out with many innovative schemes that would take school education to every nook and corner of Tamil Nadu including inaccessible areas. When he learnt that poverty stood in the way of parents sending their children to school, he inaugurated his now famous midday meal scheme which would provide at least one square meal to the child in the school so that he would remain there to learn. The very fact that the scheme has continued till date, with each of the successive chief ministers adding one type or other improvement to the scheme bears ample proof for its success in bringing a large number of children of depressed classes to schools. In education, too, Tamil Nadu had chalked out a well thought out policy of its own which has been followed for decades.
It is in this context that when the decision of the Rajiv Gandhi government to open Navodaya schools in the name of Jawaharlal Nehru at the rate of one per district, the government of Tamil Nadu refused to comply with the mandate saying that there was no need for such schools in the state.
Elitism, in any form, is detrimental to the development of democratic spirit and has to be eschewed in toto. The very fact that there will be only one school per district smacks of elitism and exclusivism. That is why, N.D. Sundaravadivelu, the veteran educationist of Tamil Nadu called the school a palatial luxury in the amidst hutments all around. Will those schools not become breading grounds of inequality?
May be such an arrangement will be a boon to the people of the State which is backward in education. But in Tamil Nadu, where every effort is made (like supply of the books, free uniforms, free bi-cycles, free bus passes, free lap-tops and what not) to lure the children to schools, such luxuries like Navodaya schools are to be shunned.
The medium of instruction in those elite schools will be the mother tongue upto the tenth standard level and will be switched over to English or Hindi at the higher secondary level. Is it possible for students of that age of cope with this change? Will it not encourage drop outs?
There is one more danger too. Navodaya schools follow three language formula against the two language formula followed in Tamil Nadu since 1968. And three language formula means imposition of Hindi, which is against the avowed policy of the state.
As against the policy of the state government not to deny admission to any child, these Navodaya schools are to conduct admissions to the sixth standard on the basis of an entrance test. Is it not a discriminatory step to keep away the depressed classes and encourage only the privileged sections?
On the other side, the government of the centre spends Rs. 27,150/- for each student of the central schools (Kendriya Vidyalas). But the same government is prepared to spend a whopping Rs. 85,000/- per student by running them as residential schools. Why such a huge amount, when the state spends only Rs. 3000 – Rs. 4000/- per student? Why should a chosen few be given a different education at such a huge expense at the cost of the weaker sections? Will it not lead to inequality?
As soon as the scheme was announced the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) convened a mammoth conference in Tiruchirappalli on 10th June 1986, where veteran educationists and intellectuals voiced their opposition to the sinister move.
DK again revolted against Navodaya by convening protest conference on 14th September 2017 at Periyar Thidal, Chennai. Let the same spirit continue in the interest of the backward section of Tamil Nadu. Let us see through the tricks of the government at the centre to saffronise education, and thwart all its attempts.
Let us swear by equality and self respect.