Private schools necessarily belong to privately managed systems, but not necessarily to privately funded systems of education. Private schools, which are increasing in an unprecedented manner, have become substitutes for, not supplements to, government schools De They are basically of two types: private aided and private unaided. The private aided schools, according to Tilak 'do not provide any significant financial relief to the government as more than 95 percent of the recurring expenditures, and sometimes some part of the capital expenditures of these schools are met by the government'.
This private sector does not only not reduce public financial burden but also 'contributes to pauperisation of government schools', by taking away disproportionately large amounts from the limited public budgets, 'and misallocation of public resources' ibid: Tilak states that the private unaided schools 'provide some financial relief, but at huge social and economic cost.
The adverse effects include accentuating dualism, elitism, and class inequalities' Raina cautions that decentralisation in the form of privatisation of education for greater public choice clearly lacks equity and will not necessarily lead to genuine empowerment. Admission seeking is a harrowing experience for the parents and therefore pre-primary schooling, and that too, with exorbitant tuition fees, is increasingly in demand. Many of these pre- primary programmes, which do not require any governmental approval or 'recognition', are academically and developmentally inappropriate as generally, some untrained personnel manage such programmes with not so adequate facilities.
They are at most mere downward extensions of the curriculum to the absurd level of two year-olds. These pre-schools are meant, firstly to compensate for women joining the workforce and the breakdown of the traditional support system of the joint family, and secondly to be preparatory programmes for admission tests to primary schools. Government schools, on the other hand, usually begin from the first standard and there are hardly any schools with pre-school facilities.
In Goa, hardly any government schools have pre-primary schools attached to their primary, middle or secondary schools. There are, however, some centres related to ECCE and coordinated through the centrally sponsored scheme of Integrated Child Development Services ICDS , but it must be noted that the education component of ICDS is only one of the six components - which include 'supplementary nutrition, immunisation, health check-ups, referral services, non- formal pre-school education, and nutritional and health education for children below six years, and to pregnant and nursing women' Kaul 27 - and therefore very limited in its impact.
Thus, there are many children, especially the poor, who come to school directly from their homes and without the desired levels of readiness for learning. The National Survey Sample Organisation NSSO 52 round data reports that 'almost 47 percent of children who drop out of school cite inability to cope academically and lack of interest in studies as the predominant reasons' Kaul In fact evidence from the field of neuroscience suggests that The period from conception to six years is very significant for brain development. These years provide the base for development of competence and coping skills, which affect learning, behaviour, and health throughout life Early schooling in Goa, while it shares many of the characteristic traits of pre- primary and primary education in the Indian subcontinent has its own peculiar features and problems, consequences of the social, political and economic developments in pre and post-liberation Goa.
Towards the end of Portuguese rule in Goa, the enrolment of students in Portuguese medium schools, especially at the primary level, dwindled and the numbers of students enrolling in Marathi and English medium schools increased manifold. There were some Konkani medium schools also, but few studied in these schools. With liberation, primary education experienced a colossal expansion Varde However, at the elementary levels, the enrolments according to the medium of instruction were tilted in favour of Marathi, English and Konkani in the above order.
The Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party MGP , which came to power soon after liberation, was a pro-Marathi party and did everything possible to further the interests of the Marathi language. Marathi primary schools proliferated in the union territory, the number of English primary schools also increased, but primary schools conducted in Konkani medium remained negligible. In multilingual Goa, Konkani has the highest number of mother tongue speakers, followed by Marathi, as recorded in all the censuses since On 4 February , Konkani acquired the official language status.
The History and Future of Konkani Language
The Official Language Act , however, said that the Marathi language 'shall also be used for all or any of the official purposes'. The same Act stated that 'the English language shall continue to be used in addition to the languages specified It took twenty-six long years, after the liberation of Goa, for the Konkani language to 'ascend the throne' In the same year , when Konkani was declared the 'Official Language', the enrolment in Marathi primary level schools was the highest at students, followed by students in English Schools and only a negligible number of students in Konkani schools.
Since liberation, Marathi and English dominated the enrolment figures at the primary level till the government introduced on 15 May a drastically different education policy. Today, the enrolment figures in Marathi are still the highest but they are much lower than they were in , around 45 percent. Almost 40 percent of the school going children then, attended English medium schools, while today, only about 20 percent of the school going children are in English medium schools. The enrolment for Konkani medium schools has increased from the minuscule figure of 0.
In three month's time, that is, on 30 May of the same calendar year, Goa was transformed into a state with Konkani written in Devanagari script, the majority language, as its official language.
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The schools that refused to abide by the new education policy were denied the necessary grants-in-aid. The policy, introduced when English primary schools had become very popular, ignored the existing educational reality. Over 40 percent of children in all primary schools, at that time, studied in English medium primaries, and enrolment in Marathi primary schools was declining at a rate of more than children per annum see Government of Goa, Daman and Diu ; Government of Goa Pro-choice parents, educationists and others launched a prolonged and unprecedented agitation as far as medium of instruction was concerned and they protested vociferously and determinedly.
Despite opposition from different quarters, the new education policy was not revoked or repealed but has continued and still is in force today. The survey pointed out interesting facts. While There is a widespread desire among parents to educate their children in English and despite government's denial of grants-in-aid to schools conducted in English medium, English schools have not died down but are mushrooming everywhere. In post-liberation Goa, language is associated with many social, political and cultural issues. Very broadly, these issues centre around two seemingly distinct but inter- related dimensions of social reality — politics of cultural identity and aspirations for mobility.
Language of early schooling has become a major site where politics of cultural identity and aspirations for mobility intersect each other and people have to negotiate between them. While 'identity politics' and 'mobility aspirations' are the two main opposing forces pulling parents towards a choice of different languages for the early schooling of their children, there are other factors also explaining parents' behaviour.
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The existence of a dual system of schools,. THE PROBLEM Identity Politics and Mobility Aspirations Ever Since the education policy of , admission time in Goa has become a stressful moment for parents, who experience the dilemma: should they admit their children into schools that provide elementary education in the politically defined mother tongue or should they admit them in schools conducted in languages that promise upward mobility. Languages act as symbols of identity. For analytical purposes identity can be classified into two, primordial and instrumental.
The primordial identifications which emerge from one's principal cultural identity are found 'in the unconscious realms of the adult personality' Newman , and pull the people toward language preservation. He claims, 'a sizeable section of Goan community will uproot itself from the soil of Indian culture, give up most of the attributes of Goan cultural identity and will begin to live as an Indo-Anglican community; while the other section will by and large preserve Goan identity' Bhembre The instrumental identification is 'chosen out of a large number of possible cultural identities because it seems to offer the greatest chance of political success' Newman This identification propels people towards language assimilation Arel Language assimilation means the appropriation of another language in which people visualise an opportunity for mobility.
To get a clearer picture of the connotations of instrumental identifications, we need only to go through such popular writings as 'In Defence of English' or popular movements for or against one language or the other. For example, Martins writes, 'English speaking children reared by English speaking educated parents, using English as a medium of communication from babyhood, will study better in primary schools only in English medium and not the professed mother tongue, specially when knowledge of mother tongue is insufficient' Martins a: 2. This illustrates how people choose between the identities.
The two identities often divide the people into contesting camps. Could this shift be a result only of market governed instrumental rationality? The Dual System In fact the enrolment in English medium primary level schools steadily decreased for about 5 years after the education policy, that is, till From the year the graph has constantly risen due to the mushrooming of private unaided English medium primary schools.
Goa in the last decade has witnessed the rise of a dual system of schooling. In the first instance, the privately owned school system catering to those who can afford paying high fees and donations, and where all learning from the nursery to at least the fourth standard, if not to higher education, is in English. The elite, as well as the middle classes, making tremendous financial sacrifices, enrol their children in these schools.
There is a rapid proliferation of private schools meant to cater for the demands of an emerging middle class. In a way it has led to commercialisation of education. In the second instance, the government schools, using the mother tongue or regional language as medium of education are the only alternative for the vast majority of masses incapable of admitting their children in the expensive, privately owned and unaided schools.
Do all parents enjoy the right to choose?
Inequality of Educational Opportunity From , English schools as well as enrolment in such schools have gone on increasing despite the heavy donations and high fees charged by these schools. The Goan linguistic scene is diglossic with English as the 'High' language and Konkani and Marathi as the 'Low' languages. Since liberation, English has been and is still used in education at the primary, secondary, higher secondary and higher education.
This has resulted in the rise of a new brand of parents who have been born and brought up in English speaking homes. English is widely accepted in commerce, courts, law, industry, bureaucracy and education. The legislative assembly proceedings and the day-to-day administration in the state take place in English. Further, Goa has been a migration- oriented society. Goans, especially the Christians, are forever seeking jobs abroad or at sea, necessitating the learning of English.
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As English is required to 'take off' on a professional flight, there is a pronounced preference and demand for English medium education in Goa, even among those who do not have enough money to admit their wards in English medium schools. But the economically weak parents, because of financial constraints, are unable to enrol their children in English medium schools resulting in the shattering of their mobility aspirations.
The exorbitant fees have led to the inequality of educational opportunities. Should not the education system contribute to the eradication of inequality?
Grants, therefore, were not to be given to schools imparting instruction in English, 'the alien language' but as per the High Court ruling in November teachers in all non-government schools had to be paid salaries on par with the teachers in government schools. The management of Catholic schools switched over to Konkani medium, either to be eligible for grants, necessary due to the High Court ruling that teachers be paid higher salaries or to promote Konkani, the mother tongue of most Goans.
This transition from English to Konkani drastically reduced the English medium schools and enrolment in them. Several academically relevant sociological questions arise. Is the teach-regional-languages-or-don't get-grants- policy the best policy to enhance the educational achievements of children? Was the decision political or pedagogical? How do the heads of institutions react to this policy? Or what is the perspective of the heads of institutions regarding the education policy? Has there been any introspection on the policy since its inception by the educationists, especially by the Archdiocesan Board of Education, which runs a large section of the primary level schools?
Even as of some of the talukas did not have a single English School, thereby making English school inaccessible to most from those talukas. Should they send their children to English medium schools that provide instruction at nursery, kindergarten and primary in English or should they admit their children in Konkani or Marathi medium schools?
If they choose the former they will most probably have a difficult time to look for another school where they can admit their child in the fifth standard as most of the English medium primary schools, with only a couple of exceptions, do not offer secondary education in their institutions.
However, they feel that beginning school from the scratch with English as medium of instruction will improve their English skills and make them fluent in the language of future, the language that has better academic and employment potential. Choosing the latter - especially, schools run by the Archdiocesan Board of Education, which are many - they let their children go through an education system that does seem illogical and irrational to them.
The topsy-turvy education system in these schools begins at nursery and kindergarten in English, followed'by primary in Konkani and again secondary in English. And yet many parents choose to enroll their children in many of these latter schools as these schools are established and reputed schools. If mother tongue education is the best why start in English at nursery and kindergarten? Do these shifts of media at such a tender age affeCt the child's intellectual growth? Do children who have studied in the mother tongue medium at the primary level fare better in the secondary, which is in English, than others who have studied in English all their school life?
How does it affect their performance at the secondary examination? Religio-linguistic Divide While a majority of Goans speak Konkani at home, there is a substantial section of Goans who speak English, and few who speak Marathi.
Konkani, whether in the spoken or written form, is not a homogenised entity. Goans of different religions, castes, and regions speak different dialects and also write differently. Presently the script controversy has engendered bitterness and division among the Konkani loyalists, due to the Roman script protagonists clamouring for equal recognition.
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