Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee indicated on Tuesday that her government would lay stress on teaching English in schools and would also encourage students to learn different languages. However, Bengali being the regional language should also be studied simultaneously.
"Many years have gone by when generations were not allowed to learn English. I want students to learn English. Now, we are going to introduce English. E-learning has already begun," Banerjee said while addressing a programme on Teachers' Day at Nazrul Manch. However, she did not name the erstwhile Left Front government that had stalled English teaching in state-run schools till Class VI in 1983.
Making it clear that it should be the prerogative of the students which language they would learn, she added: "They will learn English, Bengali and any other language they wish to learn. Nepali... Maithili... Aichiki... any language they want..."
She stressed that as Bengali is the regional language, a student hailing from the state needs to learn his/her mother tongue as well. "We will give importance to the mother tongue where it is required. Where needed, we will give importance to English, where we need Hindi we will give it the priority. Similarly, we will also give importance to Gurmukhi language because of our Sikh brothers and sisters," she said.
Lauding her pet "Kanyashree" scheme that has included 44 lakh girls under its ambit, Banerjee said it had helped in lowering the drop-out rate by 16.5 percent.
Elaborating on the achievement in the field of education in the last six years, she said: "In six years we have built 16 new universities, 46 new colleges and have increased as many as 4 lakh seats. A good number of polytechnics and ITI colleges have also been set up," she said.
State Education minister Partha Chatterjee has recently said that the government is thinking of starting some English medium schools from the primary to the upper primary level. Chatterjee, however, said Bengali medium schools would remain as they are. The Education department is inviting proposals in this regard from various teachers' bodies and educational institutions so that he can discuss the matter with the Chief Minister.
The Mamata Banerjee government in May had announced that Bengali would be compulsory till Class X, including in schools affiliated to ICSE and CBSE boards as part of a Three-Language Formula (TLF). However, Darjeeling and certain areas of the Dooars (foothills of the Himalayas) and the Terai (plains close to the hills) would be exempted from teaching Bengali as a compulsory language.