Marathi learning made compulsory in all Maharashtra schools

Marathi learning made compulsory in all Maharashtra schools

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray

Mumbai, Feb 27 (IANS) The Maharashtra legislature has unanimously passed a bill making teaching and learning of Marathi compulsory in all schools across the state with the Assembly clearing the law on Thursday. The Maharashtra Compulsory Teaching and Learning of Marathi Language in Schools Bill, 2020 was passed by the Legislative Council on Wednesday. The development came as Maharashtra celebrated 'Marathi Bhasha Din' (Marathi Language Day) on Thursday, coinciding with the birth anniversary of legendary poet-litterateur and Jnanpith Award winner, V. V. Shirwadkar. Among other things, the new bill provides for a penalty of upto Rs 100,000 on schools that fail to comply with the provisions. For the first time, the bill will cover all schools across the spectrum, irrespective of the boards to which they are affiliated. In the normal course, a bill is usually introduced in the lower house first and after its approval, is tabled in the upper house. However, this time, Legislative Council Chairman Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar permitted the government to first introduce the bill in the upper house. "As per legislative procedures, a bill is generally cleared in the assembly and then tabled in the Council. But as an exception, I am allowing Minister for Marathi Language, Subhash Desai, to table the bill (in Upper House)," Nimbalkar said on Wednesday. "I will pursue with the Centre the matter to grant a classical language status for Marathi. I am very happy that the Bill has been passed unanimously," Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said. Introducing the bill, Desai said that the bill was on the lines of similar laws in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana. Accordingly, from the academic year 2020-2021, Marathi learning and teaching will be made compulsory in all schools in a phased manner starting with Class 1 to 6 this year, and by 2024 upto Class 10, irrespective of the boards to which they are affiliated, and follow a curriculum prescribed by the state government. However, the government will have the power to exempt a student or a class of students from any or all of the provisions in the law, intended for students coming from out of Maharashtra, Desai said. Supporting the bill, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, however, said that the provision of exemption could create a loophole. He also said that since some schools already charge fees ranging from Rs 500,000-Rs 12,00,000, the Rs 100,000 penalty is too low and pose no problems to them, besides seeking provisions to penalise repeat offenders.

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