New Delhi, July 8: An organisation affiliated to the RSS today floated suggestions that seek to replace English with Indian languages in the education system and change the way institutions are granted minority status.
The Bhartiya Shikshan Mandal (BSM) released a "draft education policy" that would allow students to become doctors or engineers without learning English.
The "policy", mere suggestions that do not have any legal or official underpinning, will be discussed with about four lakh people in the next six months and submitted to the Union and state governments.
BSM national organising secretary Mukul Kanitkar told a media conference here that children were comfortable in studying in their mother tongue. At the secondary level, they should learn at least one classical language, he added.
"Literature in classical languages is a rich source of knowledge. Students should learn one of these languages," he said.
The suggestions do not mention that English has to be learnt.
Kanitkar said doctors have to deal with people who speak Indian languages. Imparting such education in Hindi or in any Indian language will be more helpful, he added.
On minority status, if the BSM yardstick is applied, thousands of institutions will lose the label and the resultant rights and exemptions.
Kanitkar said the continuation of minority status for institutions should be linked to the enrolment of over 50 per cent students from the community concerned.
He said minority institutions should primarily cater to the educational needs of minorities. The organisation differed with a Supreme Court judgment of last year that said the managing body of minority institutions needed to have more than 50 per cent members from the community. The BSM will move the court to seek the reversal of the judgment.
"By saying that 50 per cent members of the committee should be from the community, the court has allowed institutions to enjoy minority character even as most students are from other communities. We are saying the beneficiaries should be the basis, not members of the management committee," Kanitkar said.
Professor Yashpal, who headed a panel that prepared the national curriculum framework that acts as a guide for school textbooks, said the BSM recommendations had no relevance.
Teaching in the mother tongue in primary classes is already in place. But as the children move upwards, they need to learn in languages that help them connect to the world. English cannot be pushed back, he said.
"Promoting mother tongue at the primary level is fine. There is no relevance when they say higher education and professional degrees should be in Indian languages," Yashpal said.
Justice M.S.A. Siddiqui, a former chairman of the National Commission of Minorities Educational Institutions which awards minority status to institutions, said the Constitution says minorities have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
"In some states, say Odisha, the Christian population could be very small. They would be scattered across the state. To say that more than 50 per cent (students) should be from that community to get minority status is basically denying the community its right to set up a minority institution," Justice Siddiqui said.
The Supreme Court has said the beneficiaries must be members of the community but has not prescribed what the percentage of students from the community should be, Justice Siddiqui said.
"The respective state governments have to notify what should be the minimum percentage of students from the minority community in a minority institution. To my knowledge, none of the states has done so," Justice Siddiqui added.