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Marathi needs help but wannabe saviours unaware


Shoaib Ahmed, Raksha Shetty,CNN-IBN
Jul 16, 2008 at 12:55am IST

Mumbai: Maharashtra Navnirman (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray wants Marathi to be compulsorily taught in all schools in Maharashtra but the language could use better help than threats.

The Marathi Granth Sangralaya library in Mumbai is supposed to celebrate and promote the Marathi language, but in the last two years half of its total 29 branches have shut down. Politicians who claim to be protectors of Marathi Asmita (Marathi identity) are not even aware that the language isn’t flourishing.

Dropout rates in Marathi medium schools in Mumbai are at an all-time high and more than 100 schools have shut down in the last five years alone. Maharashtrians themselves are reluctant to send their children to Marathi schools.

Shama Mungekar is a proud Maharashtrian and all for promoting Marathi but she decided to send her children to an English-medium school. “I studied in a Marathi medium school but when I went to college I found it very difficult to cope up because all the subjects were in English. My children shouldn't face the same problem,” she says.

English medium schools, which are accused of ignoring the state’s language, are defiant and claim politicians don’t even know that Marathi is already a compulsory subject till a certain class.

“Our students study Marathi till Class VII standard and in SSC till the Class X,” says Lakhmi Krishnaswamy, of Utpal Sanghvi School’s International Section.

Raj and his estranged cousin, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, both allege Marathi is being ignored in Maharashtra but for all their hue and cry they don’t practise what they preach. The children of both the leader study in this elite English-medium Bombay Scottish School, where Marathi is taught only for four years.

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