The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No consensus at English meet

Calcutta, Oct. 11: The meeting of the Left Front’s education cell ended inconclusively today after it failed to arrive at a consensus on the introduction of English from lower classes.

The cell will meet again on October 25.

Those present, however, discussed at length the recommendations of the Ranjugopal Mukherjee education committee on revamping school education in the state. The 13-member committee had submitted its report to the Assembly during the budget session.

The meeting had been convened to ratify the CPM’s move to reintroduce teaching of English from Class I in the 53,000 odd state-aided primary schools across the state.

At present, English is taught formally from Class III and informally from Class II in state-aided institutions.

Front leaders at today’s meeting discussed the overall language policy, commencement of academic session and other major issues relating to overhauling of school education as recommended by the committee.

The proposed re-introduction of English from Class I — after a gap of 24 years — was recently discussed at a meeting of the CPM, where a sizeable section of the party’s heavyweights gave the green signal.

A majority of Front leaders, barring those from the CPM, was learnt to have pointed out that English should be taught from Class I.

“Our party is in favour of beginning English teaching from Class I and we made our stand clear in today’s meet,” said Shyamapada Ghosal of the Forward Bloc. Representatives from the RSP shared similar views.

The lone dissenting voice was perhaps heard from CPI representatives, who insisted that the government should continue with the existing practice to start formal teaching of the subject from Class III.

“We are against the recommendations of the Ranjugopal Mukherjee committee which opines that English teaching should start from Class V. But we are also against the idea of starting English teaching from Class I,” said Amiya Basu, a key functionary of the CPI-controlled teachers’ body.

Apart from the issue of teaching English, prime time at today’s meet was devoted to the discussion on commencement of academic sessions in schools from June.

Representatives from the CPM-controlled All Bengal Teachers’ Association (ABTA) opposed the recommendations, which said that the academic session should begin from June. “We feel that April 1 is the ideal time in Bengal for beginning academic sessions and we have made this clear to the cell,” said Amal Banerjee of the ABTA.

However, teachers’ bodies owing allegiance to other Front constituents like RSP, Forward Bloc and the CPI pointed out that the session should start from January 1 every year.

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