The Karnataka government has made Kannada a compulsory subject in all schools irrespective of boards across the state. The government, however, is brushing a bigger problem under the carpet. Neither has the government prescribed textbooks to be used for first, second and third language nor are there enough textbooks.
Primary education minister Tanveer Sait said that starting August, Kannada will be mandatory for students from class 1 in all schools including ICSE and CBSE boards. What he did not mention was the lack of preparedness on part of the government to implement the same. "It is all good to hear but who will address the technical issues? Which books are prescribed and where are the textbooks? Who has prescribed them? Nobody has thought about it. The academic year has already begun and most districts haven't received books at all. The government has not even taken the initiative to find out how many books are required," said Shashikumar, the president of Private schools association.
To prescribe a textbook, the government calls for indents in the month of September or October. School associations claim that no such move was taken and the government has no clue how many textbooks are required. "Every school has to fall in line if there is a state policy and schools don't mind teaching Kannada as a mandatory subject but insisting the same without proper preparation is not the way to go about it. No books have been prescribed for third and second language. Have they been printed? Is it ready for this academic year? these questions are important," Shashikumar added.
In most districts, students are yet to receive Kannada textbook even in state board schools leave alone supplying them to ISCE and CBSE boards. For example, state board schools in Mandya district are yet to receive Kannada textbooks for class 1 to 5. In Kodagu, schools have an acute shortage of class 2 and 4 Kannada textbooks. In Bengaluru, schools are facing a shortage of First language Kannada textbooks for class 2, 4, 7 and second language Kannada textbooks for class 8 and 5.
CBSE and ICSE boards alone can affect change
While the Karnataka government may make as many announcements as they want for CBSE and ICSE schools to make Kannada a compulsory subject, it is ultimately the respective boards who can affect change.
"We already teach Kannada for students who have opted it as a language but making it compulsory as second for the first language will pose big problems, especially tot hose students who are not from Karnataka and come on transfer. Moreover, the academic year has already started and students have already opted for the languages that they want to study. This will now become a legal issue. The central board has to give a circular or notice that the state language has to be the second language, until then, we cannot affect the change," said Srinivasan Muthusamy, the President of CBSE Schools Association in Karnataka.
The Karnataka primary education minister has threatened to revoke 'No Objection Certificates; of schools that do not adhere to the compulsory Kannada rule, however, the lack of preparation is from the government's side, is what schools associations have to say. "How can you affect change when the academic year has already begun? The parents too have to have a say," said a CBSE school student's father.