Gujarati languageeducation is now mandatory in schools for students of classes 1 to 8 across the State. A bill was introduced in the State Assembly on Tuesday making penal provisions for schools failing to comply.

The bill received support from the Opposition Congress and was passed unopposed. The bill will be made effective as a law from the new academic year starting for 2023-24.

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State Education Minister Kuber Dindor introduced the bill, stating that the Bill, Gujarat Compulsory Teaching and Learning of Gujarati Language Bill, 2023 was prepared to ensure that the children studying in the primary schools of the State are compulsorily taught the mother-tongue. The bill has made it mandatory to teach Gujarati through the State-approved textbook in classes 1 to 8. The bill also has a provision for penal action against the management of schools for failing to comply. The first-time violation will attract a penalty of ₹50,000, followed by ₹1 lakh for the second, and ₹2 lakh for the third violation. And after three such violations, the State may take stern actions, such as suspending the approval given to the non-granted schools.

In his address, the minister noted that despite Gujarati being the official language of the State, there were several schools, where the language wasn’t even taught as a subject. Notably, in April 2018, a resolution was passed by the State Government mandating Gujarati language teaching in non-Gujarati schools for classes 1 and 2 and subsequently for up to class 8. But it was found that several schools did not comply with the State directive. As a result, a need was felt to enact a law to make it mandatory, the minister said.

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However, earlier a public interest litigation was filed before the Gujarat High Court, which found no regulatory framework for teaching Gujarati in schools. The High Court had remarked to enact a law to make Gujarati language teaching compulsory in all schools as a way to preserve the mother tongue.