The BJP dispensation in Gujarat has dropped Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Tamil and four other languages from the mandatory teacher eligibility test for government and aided schools.
Right to Education activists and aspirants said the "arbitrary" decision had "devastated" the career ambitions of hundreds of graduates in these subjects who have BEd degrees. The other subjects that have been axed from the Teacher Aptitude Test (TAT) are Marathi, Odia, Telugu and Sindhi.
The government has not cited any reason for the decision. This newspaper sent an email to Gujarat school education secretary Vinod R. Rao asking why the languages had been dropped. His response is awaited.
Qualification through TAT is a mandatory requirement to become a teacher at a government-run or government-aided secondary or senior secondary school in Gujarat. There are several Urdu- and Marathi-medium schools in the state. Besides, many schools offer studies in Indian languages.
TAT, conducted by the State Examination Board of Gujarat, is scheduled to be held on June 4. It's the department of school education that took the decision to drop the eight subjects from TAT. A group of aspiring Urdu teachers has filed a petition in Gujarat High Court challenging the decision.
The last TAT was held five years ago in 2018, an aspirant said.
“There are 10 Urdu-medium schools in the state. Besides, some other schools also teach Urdu. The government arbitrarily dropped the eight language subjects,” the aspirant said, declining to be identified.
Mujahid Nafees, an activist associated with the Right To Education (RTE) Forum, said qualification via TAT was mandatory for appointment as a teacher at a government-run or government-aided school affiliated to the Gujarat Secondary or Higher Secondary Education Board.
“The decision to drop the eight languages from TAT has devastated the career ambitions of several hundred graduates in these languages who have BEd degrees. We have written to the government to reconsider the decision,” Nafees said.
Nafees suspects that the government wants to fold up the schools where any of these eight languages is the medium of instruction, and to discontinue the teaching of these eight languages as subjects across schools.
“The National Education Policy talks about promoting the study of Indian languages. However, on the ground, Indian languages are being dropped as options for students.
“They will gradually discontinue the schools in different languages and the language options in other schools,” Nafees said.
Nafees said that having wide language options in schools encourages multiculturalism and multilingualism.
People from different states who work in Ahmedabad and Surat feel comfortable when schools in Gujarat offer their languages as subjects, he said.