Kannadigas in Kerala’s border district of Kasaragod are rejoicing as their protests against the appointment of non-Kannada speaking teachers to a Kannada medium school have finally borne fruit.
The Kerala government earlier this week (6 October) asked the teachers to officially learn Kannada and instructed them to be trained at the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) in Mysore for a year.
Last year in August, the Kerala government had appointed four Malayalam speaking teachers to different Kannada medium schools in Kasaragod, which has a considerable Kannada speaking population.
But a year later, the government has had to finally give in to the demands of students and pro-Kannada organisations and sent off the teachers on a paid training to CIIL for a year.
This is a battle straight out of the national award winning Kannada children’s film, Sarkari Hi. Pra.Shaale Kasaragodu, Koduge Ramanna Rai by Rishab Shetty.
As reported by Suvarna News, after severe protests by Kannada organisations last year, one of the teachers appointed as a Math teacher to Mangalpadi government school was sent on leave and then transferred.
Another teacher who had been posted returned to the police department from where he had been appointed.
Two other teachers based in Thiruvananthapuram who were posted to government schools in Paivalike and Bandyadka in Kasaragod have been asked to learn Kannada so they can come back and teach in Kannada.
Even as the case against the appointment of Malayali math teachers to Kannada medium schools is sub-judice in the Kerala High court, organisations have tightened the noose against this move warning against tokenism.
“If the teachers just return with a certificate saying they have learnt Kannada, we will have to protest again,”warned Muralidhar Ballakuraya, President, Kannada Horata Samiti, Kasaragod, as quoted.
Investigations are on in the said case where protesters have also petitioned that until the matter is settled, no Malayalam speaking teachers be appointed to Kannada medium schools, the existing ones be either given non-teaching responsibilities or they learn Kannada and then teach.
Both the Kannada Horata Samiti as well as the Kasaragod Kannada Jilla Sahitya Parishat have also written a letter to CIIL, asking it to ensure that the teachers return to the schools only after they have acquired the language correctly.
They have also asked the institute to ensure the teachers are not just given a certificate of proficiency for the sake of it.
Kasaragod - ‘Gadinadu Kannadigas’
Kasaragod is a coastal district on the border of Karnataka and Kerala which was part of South Canara district of erstwhile Madras state until the linguistic reorganisation in 1956.
But it consisted of Kasaragod and Hosdurg as two distinct parts, the former being a predominantly Kannada speaking population. Since then the linguistic tussle has raged on.
Activists have time and again sought integration of the predominantly Kannada speaking portions with Karnataka, as was recommended by the Mahajan committee setup to address the issue. But this has remained a pipe-dream for activists for the last five decades in a district that has over 150 Kannada medium schools.
The latest government order regarding Kannada teachers though has brought some respite. Kerala goes to by-polls later this month for five seats, one of which is Manjeshwaram in Kasaragod.