Market forces have prompted the Marxist government in Bengal to introduce English as the medium of instruction in five state-aided schools in and around Calcutta.
The school education department on Wednesday decided to open English-medium sections in Hindu School, Bethune School, Ballygunge Government School, BD Government School and Barasat Government School, following a meeting with the headmasters of these institutions.
The English-medium sections will be operational from the 2008-09 academic year.
“Many students and guardians have expressed their preference for English as the medium of instruction in Higher Secondary courses. The government has no problem in allowing the schools to run English-medium sections provided they have the required infrastructure,” Dibyen Mukherjee, the director (school education), told Metro after the meeting.
There are 44 government-run and government-sponsored schools in the state, of which 25 are in Calcutta and its adjoining areas.
Though the schools have “proper academic infrastructure and maintain high academic standards”, they have not been drawing the best brains over the past few years.
“It is a fact that some students are shying away from enrolling in our institution, as the medium of instruction we follow is Bengali,” said Tapan Shee, the headmaster of Barasat Government School, on the northern fringes of the city.
“Almost every student now wants to study the Higher Secondary courses in English. Their demand is legitimate as studying the plus-two courses in English will help them score better in the all-India competitive examinations like the IIT-JEE, AIEEE and other engineering and medical entrance tests,” explained Shee, who attended Wednesday’s meeting.
The demand from the student community prompted several schools to approach the government with a proposal to run English-medium units along with the Bengali-medium ones.
Sources in the education department said some other state-run institutions — including Sakhawat Memorial, Hare School, Sanskrit Collegiate School and Taki Government School — have sought permission to open English- medium units.
“We will examine the proposals and allow as many schools as possible to start the courses in English-medium from the 2008-09 academic session,” said Mukherjee.