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Educational Problems Of Linguistic Minorities/ Muslims
In Tamilnadu

By S. M. Abdur Raheem Patel

24 July, 2010


One of the first things done by the DMK party when it came to power in 1967 was to abolish teaching of Hindi as a third language in Schools. Its political approach to Hindi turned in to an opposition to any third language, so much so the Linguistic Minorities in the state had to choose either the mother tongue OR Tamil coupled with English which has been compulsory all along. This system has become the so called TWO LANGUAGE FORMULA of the State. The Tamil speaking majority have been learning Tamil and English. And the linguistic minorities ( Telugu,/ Urdu / Kannada Malayalam etc.,) had to forego their mother tongue and culture if they wanted to learn Tamil in order to be eligible for Govt. Services. Or they had to forego this opportunity of govt. service if they wanted to retain their language. As a result teaching of minority languages has been gradually declining since 1967. Anyway at least a small fraction of linguistic minorities have been clinging to their mother tongue so far.

Things changed from bad to worse when the Tamilnadu Tamil learning Act 2006 was passed in 2006. According to this Act learning of Tamil and English was made compulsory for all without provision for any other language as a regular part of the curriculum. The only consideration shown to linguistic minority is to allow them to learn their mother tongue as an optional subject. This scheme first introduced in class I in 2006 is now covering classes 1 to 5, it is designed to cover all classes from 1 to 10 in the year 2015-16 (copy of the Act enclosed)

The provision for learning minority languages as an optional, additional subject outside School time table and without examination and without finding place in public examination in the Class 10 , is simply not workable . This kind of provision for learning minorities’ languages is sure to eliminate all the minority languages gradually and will come to an end by March 2016 when the public examination of class 10 will have papers only for Tamil and English. Not only this, the present provision to teach classical languages like Sanskrit and Arabic in classes 6th to 10th has also been removed by this Act, hence all linguistic minorities including those who speak Hindi and Urdu are feeling highly dejected by this enactment.

Their representations for the last 4 years have been in vain. The sad fact of this optional provision to learn the minority language is meant only to satisfy the Constitutional compulsion is really designed to remove all languages except Tamil and English from the School system. Under these circumstances it is for the Central Government to make necessary intervention,

In order to get over the above two language formula of the State if the linguistic minority want to changeover to CBSE system they face lot of hardships in getting NOC from the Sate Govt. It involves lot of delay and corruption, hence it is better that the very requirement of the NOC from the state government is removed from the laws governing opening of CBSE schools.


The Government of Tamilnadu has passed another Act called the Uniform System of School Education Act 2010 [Samchir kalvi] under which Special Schools like Oriental Arabic Schools and Oriental Sanskrit Schools stand abolished. It is strange that when the Central Government is asking Madrasas to include Secular Education the Govt. of Tamilnadu is closing down such Schools which make an attempt and make provision for learning Arabic/Sanskrit literature .

This particular act was taken to the Madras High Court by few Schools on the question of obtaining Govt. permission for using any language other than Tamil and English as a medium of instructions. The High Court has ruled that it is not necessary to get Govt., permission to use any language as medium of instruction.

In the same Judgment the High court has observed that the State should have an Academic authority and an Advisory Council. It also suggested that this Act should be in line with the Right to Compulsory Education Act and that the National Curriculum Frame-work (NCF) should be followed. We wish that the NCF should insist on teaching minority languages along with any of the two following languages;

a) Official language of the State

b) Hindi

c) English


In opening any Minority institution in Tamilnadu the Management face endless harassment. Every now and then they are asked to prove their minority character. The Ministry of Minority affairs of the Government of India in all Scholarship advertisements project Muslims, Christians Buddhists Sikhs and Parsis as minorities. On this basis the State Govt. should accept any institution opened by the managements belonging to these religions as Minority institutions.

Independent educationist or intellectuals from minority communities are not included in the state board of Education and similar other bodies as was the practice in earlier years.


In opening professional colleges also the Minorities face lot of problems. First, in getting an NOC or ESSENTIALITY SERTIFICATE from the State Govt. Secondly the State Govt. insist on Management surrendering 50% of the seat to the State Govt., if they don’t agree to this demand they face lot of hardship created by the Govt. Hence in this case also it is better that the requirement of the NOC from State Govt. is removed particularly when the State Govt. has no role to play.


We understand that our State Govt. is not allowing NAVODAYA VIDYALAYA S to be opened in Tamilnadu for the benefit of the weaker sections of the society, for reasons best known to them. We want Navodaya Vidyalayas to be opened up in Tamilnadu.


The huge funds given by the Central Govt., to the State Govt. under SSA, being utilized in our State only for Govt. Schools and nothing of this reaches to the private schools even to those Private Schools which give free education with Govt., aid toward the salaries to the teachers [ Aided Schools ] the fact in Tamilnadu is that Private Schools out number Govt., Schools, therefore majority of Schools are deprived of this assistance, this problem also needs Central intervention

Following are two submissions for the kind consideration of the Central Govt.:

Ø Right to Free and compulsory Education Act in clause 18 says that “No Schools can be opened without recognition from the appropriate Govt.” When the minorities have unfettered freedom to open and run the education institutions of their choice this clause has to be amended. The Tamilnadu Private Recognized School Regulation Act gives freedom to minorities’ schools to be opened without prior permission. After opening they can seek recognition- this is how it should be under the RTE Act also. Moreover there are hundreds of Arabic Madrasas which are already running without recognition, harassing them making use of the clause 18 of RTE Act, can be avoided by simply asking them to provide Secular education up to at least Std. 8th similar to normal Secular schools and to seek recognition to this particular arrangement.

Ø The Second submission to the Central Govt. is that independent Muslim educationist / intellectuals may be included in Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) and other such bodies under HRD Ministry this will benefit the community in the long run in addressing their problems.