Mumbai: The Opposition has slammed the government’s move to provide online training to Marathi medium school teachers for Classes 1 and 8 through the television channel ‘16 Vande Gujarat’. However, Vinod Tawde, the minister for school education, has argued that since the channel is a free-to-air channel DTH (direct to home), the government has saved lakhs of rupees, which it would have had to pay Doordarshan’s Sahyadri channel.
“The Gujarat state government has set up 16 television channels dedicated to education, which are available free of cost. We are not using the services of any Pakistani channel, Gujarat is a part of India,” said Tawde. A circular issued by the education department on September 17, addressed to all heads of schools states, “The department has planned to give training on all subjects of the new syllabus for Standards I and VIII. Virtual training will be provided through the ‘16 Vande Gujarat’ channel.
Teachers can also obtain this training through any of the state’s 63,000 digital classrooms. Training for Class 8 teachers will be from September 24 to September 26, while that for Class 1 teachers will be on September 27 and 28 through DTH service. The training programme will also be available on the Jio app of mobile phones, the circular said. Criticising the use of Gujarati airwaves for the training, Dhananjay Munde, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, quipped, “Let Gujarati be made the official language and Gandhinagar be made the capital of the Maharashtra.”
“Already, Gujarati lessons have been published in Marathi textbooks, and now, the government wants our teachers to be trained by a Gujarati channel. This attempt to convert Maharashtra into Gujarat is condemnable,” said Munde. Minister Tawde rubbished these allegations and said, “Had the opposition leader obtained proper information before levying allegations, he would have been convinced by the government’s decision.”
“Had we approached DD Sahyadri, we would have had to pay around Rs 20 lakh for a certain slot (time). This would have been a burden on the state’s finances. Besides, we would have had to seek Delhi’s permission and the media would have targeted us for paying money to Delhi,” explained Tawde. Answering a query on the Ambani-owned Jio channel, Tawde said, “Education channels of Gujarat are available not on only on the Jio app, but also on Airtel, Vodafone and DTH apps on mobiles and they are free of cost.” He condemned the opposition for politicising every issue, including education.