The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ranju report in the red
- Govt to reject panel’s views on English & computers

Calcutta, Aug. 14: The government does not approve of most recommendations of the committee on revamping school education headed by Ranjugopal Mukherjee, sources in the education department said.

The committee’s report was tabled in the Assembly last month. But the government’s intent to reject its major recommendations was apparent at a meeting of the members of the West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education today, which discussed whether the system of re-evaluating answer scripts could be introduced.

HS answer scripts are not re-examined now. The examinees are only allowed to apply for “scrutiny” of the scripts after the results are declared — a process in which papers are only checked for errors in tabulation.

Mukherjee had said teaching of English should begin from Class V and that there was no need for the government to continue with computer literacy programmes in schools. Review of Madhyamik and HS answer scripts should be abolished, the committee had said.

“We have begun examining the Ranjugopal Mukherjee committee’s report. We will announce before the pujas the recommendations that will be accepted,” said school education minister Kanti Biswas.

Officials in his department said Mukherjee’s report had completely overlooked the popular demand that English be taught from Class I itself.

The report says only mother tongue should be taught till Class V. “It will be difficult for us to accept that recommendation. How can we accept it when English is already being taught formally from Class III and informally from Class II,” an official said.

Mukherjee’s recommendation that the existing computer literacy programmes between Class VIII and Class XII be withdrawn is also headed for rejection. “This is the age of computers and dropping computer literacy programmes in school is absurd,” said an official.

When industry participation in academic activity is being welcomed, Mukherjee has said private companies should not be involved in teaching computers.

The government has also deliberated on Mukherjee’s view that the Joint Entrance Examination for admission to medical and engineering colleges should be abolished.

Academic session in schools should start from June 1, the committee had suggested. But the government is unlikely to pay heed to it.

Sources said, after the report was submitted, some members of the committee met the school education minister to express their dissatisfaction over the manner in which Mukherjee produced a “self-designed” report bypassing their suggestions on major issues.

“What has appeared in the report, especially those on teaching of English and computer literacy, are Mukherjee’s personal opinions. None of us in the committee share his views,” said a veteran academician who was part of the committee.

The government is also unhappy with the report because most of the recommendations appear to be a repetition of what the Ashok Mitra Education Commission had suggested 10 years ago.

Mitra, too, had suggested that English should be taught from Class V.

“The education scene has undergone a sea change in these 10 years. Early teaching of English and computer literacy programmes have become extremely important for students of developing countries. We had insisted that Mukherjee provide relevant suggestions to the government on these issues. But we found him adamant,” said a member of the committee.

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