We are not imposing anything on anyone: Mamata Banerjee on Bengali being mandatory in schools

West Bengal cabinet recently gave its nod to make Bengali mandatory as a second language in private English medium schools

We are not imposing anything on anyone: Mamata Banerjee on Bengali being mandatory in schools Mamata Banerjee says not imposing Bengali language (Image Source: Official Twitter Account)
Press Trust of India | Aug 10, 2023 - 11:46 a.m. IST
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JHARGAM: Rubbishing opposition claims that the state government is trying to impose Bengali on students, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said a student is free to choose the first language and the state will not interfere in it. She said the state cabinet on Monday decided on the three-language formula and asserted there was no move to make Bengali compulsory.

"Some people are spreading incorrect information. We decided on the three-language formula at the cabinet meeting. Under the formula, mother tongue will be the first language while students will have the option of choosing the second and third languages. Those who are studying in Bengali-medium schools will have Bengali as their first language. For the other two languages, they can choose from English, Hindi, Nepali, Gurmukhi, Alchiki, among others," Banerjee said. She was speaking at an administrative programme in Jhargram to celebrate the 'International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples'.

"Those who are studying in Alchiki-medium schools will have their mother tongue as the first language from the primary class. For higher classes, they will have to choose two more languages which can be Bengali, Hindi and English," she explained. Alchiki is the official script for Santhali literature & language. "In Darjeeling, they have Nepali-medium schools and they will continue studying in Nepali and will have to select two additional languages as per their choice. In Rajbongshi-medium schools, Rajbongshi will be the first language. The other two languages can be Bengali, English or Hindi. So, it is incorrect to say that we are imposing Bengali language on people," she added.

Rajbongshi is spoken in several districts of the northern part of the state. "We live in Bengal where majority of the schools are Bengali medium. There are English-medium schools as well. Those who talk in Bengali can choose Bengali as their first language while English, Nepali, Urdu, Alchiki can be their additional language choices," she added.

The West Bengal government's new education policy mandates that students will have to learn three languages in classes 5-8, with Bengali as a priority language. Two languages will be taught at the primary level - of which one will be the mother tongue. Students of classes 5 to 8 will have to learn three languages out of which the third one could be a regional one or a foreign language. Meanwhile, talking about the demands of the Santhali community, Banerjee said her government is working on building a dedicated branch in the school education department which would look to promote sub-regional languages in schools.

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