Minister cites ongoing state Board exams as reason behind not airing speech
THE EDUCATION department on Thursday directed all schools and colleges across West Bengal to ignore University Grants Commission’s (UGC) directive, asking all states to arrange for students in educational institutions to hear the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on February 16 on how to beat examination stress. On Friday, as the PM will address students at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi, all educational institutes have been asked by the Union HRD Ministry to air the speech live. In a directive issued to all university vice-chancellors and college principals on February 8, the UGC had said that steps should be taken to provide facilities, such as having projection on large screens, for students to view the programme. A website — http://innovate.mvqov.in — has been opened for facilitating students to ask questions to the PM on issues pertaining to examination and academic stress, the directive added.
However, state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Thursday cited the ongoing state Board examinations as reasons for not airing the speech in the state. “At present, examinations are going on in schools and colleges in the state. Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examinations are on. Under such circumstances, no one is willing to listen to speeches. Instead, students are busy preparing for their examinations. Making preparations for live telecast of the speech will not be the right thing to do now,” he told mediapersons. This is not the first time the Mamata government had defied the Centre. On May 31, last year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had pulled up authorities of Shri Shikshayatan School in Kolkata for allegedly playing PM’s Mann Ki Baat broadcast to students.
“I heard that your school principal Sangeeta Tandon plays speeches of political leaders in classrooms. It is very bad. This should not take place. I would have objected if videos of my speech were played in an educational institution. It does not enhance knowledge. It is purely a political programme. Please ask your principal to stop this because we keep track of everything,” Mamata had said to the secretary general of Shikshayatan Foundation, Bratati Bhattacharya, during a meeting with representatives of private educational institutions at Town Hall. In another instance, the state government had opposed the Centre’s decision to promote the Swachh Bharat Mission in state-run schools on Teachers’ Day.
On August 16, last year, the Union HRD Ministry’s School Education Secretary Anil Swarup had issued a directive stating that the PM has suggested that the message of swachhta be promoted on a massive scale and smart and young minds be engaged in the Swachh Bharat Mission through national level essay and painting competitions organised in all schools on September 5 — Teacher’s Day. The state government had described the directive as “ridiculous”. It had also opposed the Centre’s directive on Independence Day celebrations in state-run schools last year.
However, the Centre’s ‘Swachhta Hi Seva’ campaign, which concluded on October 2, last year, was carried out successfully with no opposition from the state government. A fierce critic of the Centre’s decision to link Aadhaar Card details with bank accounts, Mamata had also said her government will not accept the Centre’s diktat to bear 40 per cent cost to roll out its universal healthcare scheme.