The Urdu-medium primary school in Jaipur city, Rajasthan, was merged with a Hindi-medium senior secondary school that operated out of the same premises in the morning shift. The language of instruction at the merged school with classes from 1 to 12 is now uniformly Hindi. Since 2014, the Rajasthan government has merged over 17,000 public schools into other such institutions, with the promise that this pooling of teaching and other resources would improve the overall quality of education. Another lot is set to go this summer, with some activists estimating that the number could be over 3,700. In the process, schools that used minority languages as mediums of instruction have been subsumed within Hindi-medium institutions, leading to widespread resentment among their speakers, especially Muslims who form the largest section of Urdu speakers. There are also schools catering to Sindhi speakers, though their numbers are much lower.
Article 350A of the Constitution requires states to provide primary education in the mother tongue for linguistic minority groups.” “And the Right to Education Act to supports instruction in the mother tongue. What the government has done is a violation of our rights and a violation of the law.
In the restructuring of the staffing policy prompted by the mergers, Urdu language teaching posts have been the biggest casualty. At the primary level (Classes 1-5), posts for Urdu and other minority languages have been abolished altogether. Teachers have been accommodated elsewhere to teach general subjects.
Community members and teachers believe that this is a deliberate attempt to erase their language in a state governed by the Government. “This is a well thought out plan. There are 32 Urdu-medium schools in Rajasthan, 13 of those in Jaipur.” Of these 13, only nine were left after the mergers.
In these schools, general studies and mathematics – the two primary school subjects that are not languages – were taught in Urdu. After the merger, Hindi-medium and Urdu-medium students were made to sit in one class. The government wants to evaluate these students in Hindi, which is an indirect order to stop teaching in Urdu.
Mohammad Aslam Khan has made several complaints to the prime minister’s office and cIt is a matter of linguistic-minority students’ constitutional and fundamental rights. The chief minister of Rajasthan but hasn’t received any positive response yet. “It is a matter of linguistic-minority students’ constitutional and fundamental rights. Our kids are suffering because of the education department’s haphazard functioning. The sudden change in medium of instruction will affect the future of thousands of students studying in linguistic-minority primary schools.
Despite the upheavals, Urdu teachers don’t except the big decision to be reversed. “They have accepted the merger now, that is over. But they will continue to fight for the restoration of Urdu-medium and Urdu-language teaching in our schools.”