The Kerala government's ordinance that makes teaching Malayalam compulsory till Class X in all schools in the state has got the governor's consent.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters on Tuesday that Governor P Sathasivam has given consent to the ordinance promulgated last Wednesday.
The law will be applicable to all schools in the state, including government, aided, non-aided, CSBE and ISCE schools. It will come into effect from 2017-18 academic year onwards and schools who disobey the law will have to face legal action.
The cabinet's decision making Malayalam compulsory in schools came after it was brought to the government's notice that some schools were not teaching Malayalam.
Speaking to reporters, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that no school in the state shall prohibit its students from speaking in Malayalam.
The schools should not put up notice boards preventing the students from interacting in Malayalam. If this practice is found in any school, the principal of the school will be liable to pay a fine of Rs 5,000.
The school that defaults on the government's rule will also stand the risk of losing its No Objection Certificate (NOC).
A government order on this regard issued by the previous government in 2012 was later quashed by the court, when CBSE and ISCE school managements pointed out that non-Malayali students were also studying in schools in Kerala.
However, the Pinarayi government has assured that students from other states will be given exemption.
For non-Malayali students, we will not make it mandatory for them to pass in Malayalam (in Class X). The respective schools must do whatever is in its capacity to help these students learn Malayalam, if they so chose to.
Responding to the government's move, Jose Francis, Vice-Principal of Indo- American International School at Vagamon in Kottayam said that the law can neither be termed unfit nor can it be welcomed completely.
In 2013, the school had moved the HC against the government's decision to make Malayalam compulsory in schools.
Vice Principal Jose Francis said,
Currently, Malayalam is compulsory till Class VI. In our school, we do not make it mandatory for the students to interact in English. However, it is compulsory for them to speak to the teachers in English. This is to help them improve their language.
On the Rs 5,000 fine for imposing English speaking in students, he said, "Like some other schools, we do not penalise our students for failing to interact in English. We have students from underprivileged backgrounds studying here and we cannot impose a blanket rule to only speak English. However, as a teacher, I believe that many schools impose English-speaking on the students so that they become proficient in the language," he said.
The story was first appeared on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.