Directorate of Education in Controversy with Archdiocese Board of Education Schools over Essay Contest

The directorate of education ( DoE ) has found itself entangled in a controversy with schools of the Archdiocese Board of Education ( ABE ) deciding that its students will not participate in an essay contest organized by Patanjali Yog Samiti, Goa and endorsed by the DoE. The competition asks asks pupils to analyze and comment on an 1835 address of Lord MaCaulay.

The Diocesan Society of Education ( DSE ) is suspicious of the intent behind conducting the contest that makes the seemingly obscure topic its central subject of debate, especially when the address revolves around the British colonizer’s supposed need to impose the English language on Indians through the education system to help the colonizers to cut Indians from their roots.

The contest comes even as Goa school managements remain divided on whether English should be allowed as a medium of instruction ( MoI ) at the primary school level with continued government grants like in the case of regional languages.

“The ABE has decided that its schools will not participate in the contest. The purpose of holding the contest on such a topic is unclear. Why is the topic some address made somewhere is 1835? The subject appears to be controversial. I don’t know why the DoE wants to start a controversy when already the MoI issue remains yet to be resolved,” DSE secretary Fr Zeferino D’Souza said.

He said that the DoE sent the organizers of the contest a letter endorsing the competition giving an impression that the directorate supports the competition. “The organizers came to the schools and pestered the institutions to participate,” D’Souza said.

Director of education Anil Powar said that the DoE only issued a letter to allow the society to enter institutions to seek participation and that it does not in any manner mean that compulsory participation is being sought from schools by the DoE.

“We only said that the schools may participate in the contest and did not impose the competition on them in any way. It should not be seen as the DoE is supporting the contest or making it mandatory.

Many organizations come to us only to get access to the schools and we inform schools of the events being organized by the various associations because otherwise they cannot enter the schools without our permission. It is fine with us if some schools decide to stay away from the contest. It is for the schools to make the decision anyway,” Powar said.

Suraj Kanekar, a private practitioner based in Ponda and incharge of Patanjali Yog Samiti, Goa, said that MaCaulay’s address is part of Class VIII history textbooks and a proven source in history to have inspired the British to introduce policies that led Indians to undermine their own culture.

“The British with their foresight were able to subjugate Indians. Now, we should have the foresight to make the changes in our lifestyle today needed to provide our future generations with a better life. We want the contest to lead to a debate on the address, what was our culture and education system before the British imposed its policies, what the British did to bring English education in India, what impact this had on our culture and morality and what is our role today in society,” Kanekar said.

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