Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said in a Facebook post, that the proposal to make Bengali compulsory in schools would enable the students " to reach regional, national and international standards."
The state Education minister Partha Chatterjee had announced at a press conference late on Monday night that Bengali would be made compulsory in all Bengal schools. However, he did not specify from when this would take effect.
Banerjee in her Facebook post said: "If the students choose Bengali, Hindi, English, Urdu, Gurmukhi, Nepali, Alchiki as a first language, he/ she will have to opt for two other languages of their choice. One of the three languages would have to be Bengali. The students are free to select the two other languages."
She further stated, " India is a vast country and the strength of our nation is unity in diversity. We must respect every mother tongue and also give regional languages their due. We believe in the freedom of choice and the three language formula."
It may be mentioned that to promote the Bengali language, the Left Front government had abolished English at the primary level in 1984 in the state- run, aided and sponsored educational institutions but did not make Bengali compulsory in all the schools. As a result, there was a major gap between the students who studied in Bengali and English medium primary schools. The standard of English in state-run schools dropped and many of those who studied in Bengali medium schools failed to land good jobs because of their poor command over English. However, the Left Front government again brought back English from class I, but by then there was incalculable harm to two generations of students.
Many state government officials give notes in Bengali. Chief minister encourages this practice and some of the non-Bengali IAS and IPS officers can sing Rabindrasangeet even at public functions. However, in the schools run by Jesuit fathers and nuns, both English and Bengali are given equal importance.