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Multilingual plan for Assamese schools

Guwahati, May 29: Dispur is considering converting Assamese-medium schools in Guwahati into multilingual ones to attract more students.

Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said this today while replying to a question on why government schools in Guwahati had failed to produce toppers for the past few years.

He said a fall in the number of students seeking admission to government schools was primarily responsible for the failure to produce toppers.

“We have discussed the issue. One reason could be that most of our government schools are Assamese-medium. A suggestion has been floated to convert these schools into multi-lingual ones to attract more students. But no decision has yet been taken yet,” the minister said.

An official said most parents/guardians, especially in Guwahati, preferred sending their wards to English-medium schools. With the government school infrastructure improving in neighbouring semi-urban/rural areas, the flow of students to Guwahati and other urban areas has also seen a steady fall.

“We are giving a serious thought to making government schools attractive, including making them multi-lingual. Otherwise these schools could face extinction in the long run,” he added.

Sarma had yesterday said performance of government schools had improved in the last few years with “overall 80 per cent first divisions” coming from these schools.

The number of students seeking admission to Cotton Collegiate Government Higher Secondary School, which has a glorious history of producing some of the most brilliant students of the state, has also gone down. Principal Utpala Goswami said 10 years ago, when the school used to give admission to 150 students in Class VI, they had to refuse many aspirants. “This year, 119 students have taken admission,” Goswami said.

This year, 44 students of the school secured first division, 68 got second division and 28 third division while 17 did not pass the HSLC exam.

The other government schools in the city are facing a similar problem.

Goswami said negative publicity about the quality of government schools was also affecting the flow of students. “There are discussions about how results are becoming bad in government schools. But there is no discussion about how hard we work to improve the students. Such negative publicity affects the flow of students. Most students who take admission in our school are academically very weak at the time of admission but we extract the best out of them.”

Sarma had earlier said the state government would open English-medium schools in Assam, triggering protests from several organisations, including the state’s biggest literary body, Asam Sahitya Sabha. The Sabha’s vice-president, Paramananda Rajbongshi, said if Assamese-medium schools are converted into multilingual ones, they would “think over the matter but Assamese-medium must be there”.