Assam school news: Assam board flip-flop questions future of Assamese study in schools

GUWAHATI: The Board of Secondary Education, Assam’s (Seba) flip flop on making Assamese learning mandatory has raised questions on whether the Assamese language will continue to be taught in schools mushrooming in the state.

English is taking over as the medium of instruction in place of lingua franca Assamese in many English medium schools. Besides, there is a tendency to study Hindi by a section of students instead of Assamese.

After making Assamese study compulsory without making it mandatory for qualifying in the Class 10 boards, Seba has withdrawn its latest notification that had triggered a fresh controversy regarding the study of Assamese language in schools affiliated to Seba.

Earlier, appearing in the Assamese subject was not mandatory to pass the Class 10 board exam in Assam under the state board. There is no change in the policy, but Seba’s recent notification made it compulsory to read Assamese as a subject in Class 9 and 10 in the schools affiliated to it.

The board brought out the notification stating that one has to study Assamese till Class 10, but if the student wants, he or she can opt for the Assamese paper as the seventh subject. The marks of the seventh subject, however, won’t be counted in the overall percentage of the examinees, as per the notification.

Leading organizations like the All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu) and Asam Sahitya Sabha (ASS) were up in arms against the notification, which they said has given scope to a student with Assamese mother-tongue to qualify for the Class 10 boards even without passing in the Assamese subject. “If the marks of the seventh subject Assamese is not counted in the overall performance of a student, he or she may not study it sincerely,” said Dipanka Kumar Nath, president of Aasu.

Seba’s notification said that if a student doesn’t take Assamese as a compulsory Modern Indian Language paper or as an elective subject, he or she can appear in Assamese as the seventh paper.

While the Class 10 board examinees under CBSE have to appear in five subjects with a total of 500 marks, Seba students are already appearing for six subjects (600 marks) to pass the Class 10 boards. Nath said that the notification should be permanently scrapped because no student will appear for 700 marks under Seba, when other boards have the system of 500 marks in Class 10 boards.

The ASS on Monday convened a crucial meeting with various stakeholders, including representatives from Seba, on the issue. Sabha president and noted litterateur Kuladhar Saikia said that Seba has assured them that controversial notification would be corrected.

The Aasu representatives in the meeting, however, said that the student body is adamant that the board must come up with a new policy under which no student with Assamese mother tongue can pass the Class 10 boards without qualifying in the Assamese paper.

“In many English medium schools, there was a tendency to prefer Hindi and other languages over Assamese. Aasu is happy with the temporary suspension of the Seba notification but it should be scrapped forever,” said Aasu vice-president Utpal Sarma, who was present in the meeting.

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