The opposition on Wednesday slammed the Assam government over its slew of decisions in the education sector and alleged that the BJP-led alliance was trying to privatise schools.
At a joint press conference of nine political parties here, its leaders said the recent government steps will gradually "destroy" the mother tongue, as children will not learn it in schools. "The hidden agenda of the government is to hand over the education sector of Assam to some private players. They intend to destroy the mother tongue of all communities," Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan said.
He added that the BJP-led NDA is making basic education unaffordable for poor kids and encouraging private schools to grow. Senior Congress spokesperson Manjit Mahanta said introducing English as the medium of teaching science and mathematics from Class 3 onwards in vernacular schools will deter children from the natural learning process of the mother tongue.
CPI(M) leader Isfaqur Rahman alleged that the Assam government was closing down thousands of state-run schools on the pretext of better management and low admission rate.
"If the admission count has fallen in recent years, then it is a matter of concern and the authorities should work on this front. However, the government is doing the reverse and closing down the schools," he said.
The nine parties, including the Congress, the CPI (M), CPI, Assam Jatiya Parishad, Jatiya Dal-Asom, Raijor Dal, NCP and RJD, also released a report on the "pathetic" condition of eight historic schools in Guwahati.
"Before becoming the CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma was the education minister for 15 years. He is the only man responsible for the poor condition of government schools. Why is he blaming the students, teachers and parents now?" asked Rasel Hussain of Raijor Dal.
The opposition parties will also organise a sit-in on September 28 in Guwahati, the president of Jatiya Dal-Asom (JDA) said.
Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu had on Tuesday said the department amalgamated 1,710 schools with other nearby ones across the state. Although the opposition termed this exercise as closing down of the schools, the government said it was done for better infrastructure management and improved teacher-student ratio.
"During the last amalgamation exercise a few years ago, we provincialised teachers but did not touch the schools. So, there was a question of what would happen to those schools. We amalgamated those this time," he said.
Pegu also said that the entire exercise of amalgamation was carried out without violating the Right to Education of children.
Provincialisation refers to the government taking over all liabilities of a non-government school, which was established with the sole purpose of imparting education to serve the society, for payment of salaries and other benefits to teachers.
A senior official said prior to the latest amalgamation process, around 2,200 schools were merged with nearby ones in 2017-18.
The state cabinet had in July decided that from the academic year 2023, mathematics and science will be taught in English from Class 3 onwards in all government and provincialised Assamese and other vernacular medium schools.
It had also approved the introduction of a dual medium of instruction from Class 6 to 12 in Assamese and vernacular medium schools under the state government.