The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Front discovers virtue of Sanskrit
Kanti Biswas

Calcutta, Dec. 27: After a string of madarsa reforms, the government is bracing to modernise a few hundred tols ' the traditional Hindu institutions that teach Sanskrit.

'Sanskrit is not a dead language,' school education minister Kanti Biswas said, quoting from a report prepared by a nine-member committee set up by the government last December to study the promotion of Sanskrit education in the state.

The panel, headed by former vice-chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University Ramaranjan Mukherjee, submitted its report to the government today.

'We will immediately start examining the recommendations and implement them to upgrade the system of education in tols across the state,' Biswas said.

The Left Front government, he added, feels that the development of tols is necessary for two reasons. First, to attract more meritorious students to the traditional institutions and, second, to ensure that students who attend these schools are able to join the mainstream when they complete their tol education.

'We have upgraded madarsa education by incorporating mathematics, science and social studies to syllabi that only comprised theology. The courses now offered by the tols are also based only on teaching of Indian classics in Sanskrit. Like in the madarsas, we want to introduce modern subjects here,' Biswas said.

The modernisation of madarsa education has helped students from these institutions join the mainstream after Class X. 'We hope those attending tols will benefit the same way,' the minister said.

The Ramaranjan Mukherjee Committee for Rejuvenation of Tols, which completed its work within the timeframe stipulated, elaborates the importance of learning Sanskrit when 'people are increasingly materialistic'.

The report says: 'The undue emphasis on materialistic life and utter neglect of spirituality by Western culture has led to a sense of frustration in the West.'

A blend of modern and traditional learning is essential, says the report. Such a system, it adds, can help students develop a 'strong personality'. In a way, the report equates Sanskrit learning with character building.

Students can inculcate 'moral, social, ethical and spiritual' values by learning Sanskrit, it says.

The experts' panel has also suggested a revamp of the Vangiya Sanskrit Siksha, to which the tols are now affiliated, and the degrees they offer.

Education department officials said the government is keen to seriously consider all recommendations made by the committee.

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