With inputs from Rushabh Joshi
When Gujarat’s new Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel was still struggling to decide on his council of ministers after his swearing-in on September 13, the district primary education offices were already working and issued directions to all government schools, including the aided ones, to organise an essay competition with the theme, “My favourite Prime Minister: Narendra Modi.”
The circular dated September 14, in Gujarati from various districts, mentions that at least 10 students have to compulsorily participate from all the schools. The topic did not leave room for students to decide on their favourite prime minister, rather imposed it.
The circular mentions that the competition is to be held for Standard 5 to Standard 8. The schools are supposed to decide the top 3 contestants and send the essays along with student’s details to education officers by September 18 and the top 3 winners of the competition would be declared on the same day.
The municipal schools are supposed to implement it in the cities which have municipalities.
The circular was sent to different districts around the state including Surat, Junagadh, Sabarkantha and Porbandar. In Ahmedabad, Team VoI reached out to the District Education Officer (DEO), Hitendrasinh Padheeria regarding the matter and he said “He did not have information about the circular.”
On the other hand, Office Superintendent (OS), Bharatsinh Gohil said, “I know about the circular but I do not have the authority to decide the topic of the essay.”
When Team VoI reached out to the Chief Congress Spokesperson of Gujarat, Manish Doshi, he said, “The students go to school for education that will make them think themselves, we have to let them choose their own favourites and cannot impose our choices.”
He added, “Schools give students essays which express their thoughts like my favourite teacher, my best friend but they got to choose their favourites. This time, they are given the name and are confined to it in a manner where they cannot think outside the box.”
“If you improve the educational system in the state and let teachers do their duty instead of giving them non-teaching duties then you will become their favourite and there would be no need to enforce it,” says Doshi.
“If you want to be someone’s favourite, then you do it with your actions, you need to hire more teachers especially at the rural level and increase the number of classrooms so that students can learn better,” he added.