A premier educational institution in Kolkata, Loreto College, is facing flak for openly shutting its doors to students from non-English-medium schools. Admissions for undergraduate courses began on July 1 in West Bengal, and while initiating the process, the college affiliated with the University of Calcutta announced that it was going to ignore applications from students from Bengali and Hindi-medium schools.
The college authorities have yet to respond to the question of how they could be discriminatory. The announcement took people by surprise; the academic and teaching communities were particularly vocal in their fury over the announcement on social media.
Bias Against Non English Medium Students
The announcement stated that the medium of instruction at Loreto College was only English, and the examinations would also only be in English. Further, it read that their library had only English books and journals for all subjects other than vernacular Bengali and Hindi. The announcement noted that, from previous experience, they strongly recommend that students hailing from vernacular-medium schools opt to study in institutions where the medium of instruction is bilingual. It further stated that students whose medium of instruction in Class 12 was vernacular had not been considered for admission.
In the original announcement statement, the letter R was missing in the word "Instruction". Pointing this out, netizens trolled the college, saying that a reputed college that claims their medium of instruction to be only English could slip up on spelling. Although it looked like trolling, it was people's outrage at the college's latest discriminatory announcement.
A researcher, Saikar Banerjee, called out the college for snatching the basic rights of students to access education regardless of the medium of instruction in their high school. He added that the authorities were suffering from a colonial hangover where they only viewed people speaking and being educated in English as educated and knowledgeable. He further spoke about how he has seen many people from Bengali-medium schools outshine their counterparts from English-medium schools after learning English.
Dr Banerjee shared that he studies in an English-medium ICSE board school but added that he could understand that such decisions from respected educational institutions will have far-reaching effects on students from the suburbs, villages, and even schools that teach in the vernacular medium of instruction.
An associate professor of history in a college located in the rural part of Kolkata, Ranjini Guha, pointed out that when the University of Kolkatta offered bilingual semester exam question papers, she didn't understand why the college wouldn't even accept exceptional students from vernacular languages for admission. She further said that there were so many students from vernacular mediums going abroad for higher education. Asst. Professor Guha suggested that the college could have instead conducted an English proficiency test and claimed that there were instances where students from English-medium schools failed to write a proper paragraph in English.
The headmistress of Dhakuria Sree Ramakrishna Vidyapith for girls in Kolkata, Krishnakoli Ray, expressed her anger over the announcement. She said that she believes the college should learn its lessons first before attempting to teach young minds. She stated that she has rarely witnessed such blatant arrogance in her entire work experience as an academician. She added that she expected them to apologise, as that was the least they could do.