Bringing French to BMC schools

In an attempt to teach a foreign language in municipal schools, the BMC has received a proposal to introduce French in its curriculum.

Over the years, India has witnessed a great longing for learning foreign languages, and French rules the chart. Almost every English medium school has this European language as an important part of the curriculum, and it is a third language to study in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) curricula. As of now, more than 225 million people across the world speak fluent French and now perhaps we can see Mumbai’s BMC students getting trained in the language as well.

The BMC has recently received a proposal to introduce French as a subject in municipal schools, to be taught under the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) board from the sixth grade. “There are many benefits to learning a foreign language. We have received demands from many corporators in the city to introduce French in all the BMC schools,” says Mahesh Palkar, the BMC’s education officer.

Although the officer appreciates the idea, he hasn’t received any demand from schools, teachers, parents, or children for it. “I agree that the proposal is good, but teachers and students have not approached us for the same. If they also demand this, we would be happy to implement the proposal as soon as possible. There is also the challenge of hiring a good French language teacher, but if there is a demand then we will get all things in place and launch the program. If there is a need then it will certainly be implemented,” the officer assures.

Typically, the municipal schools in the city are failing to achieve the same educational status as private schools; the kids are marginalised as far as their education and knowledge is concerned. Nevertheless, the teachers feel positively about adding a new course to the curriculum. “As a teacher, I would always want kids to learn new things. And if the management would implement a foreign language, it will benefit the students,” says Qureshi Zafarana, who is a principle at A.K. Hafizaka Marg Urdu Municipal School in Bhuleshwar.

Similarly, the principal of Mount Road V.P. Gunj School, Virola Dina, backs the idea too. “I think this is a good move. Kids are studying various Indian languages in BMC schools and if they learn French then it is good for them. However, there should be a good teacher for them to teach. It will also change the image of municipal schools,” opines the educator.

Unlike earlier, when parents of municipal school students weren’t paying much attention to their kids’ education, these teachers assure that the parents too would support the idea. “Before, parents were completely dependent on teachers and didn’t care about their child’s future, but that has changed. They now take the responsibility and send their kids to tuitions for better understanding,” says Zafarana.

Gautam Sarve, a father of two girls who study in a municipal school, believes that the BMC should support the idea of corporators and teach this language. “It is good that children learn new things. We send our children to municipal schools because we can’t afford their private education, and the government should teach new things to children,” he says.

When the BMC announced the project last week, a city based NGO named Praja Foundation raised a concern that the BMC should also improve the way English is taught. Principal Virola Dina says in response that people have wrong ideas about municipal schools.

“Students have all the basic facilities and they are given good education. It is just that we don’t advertise like private schools do, so people think that public schools are not good and kids are not learning anything. It is not true,” asserts the principal.

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