Late last night, during a press conference at his home, he said that all private, government as well as ICSE and CBSE-affiliated schools will have to make Bengali compulsory. Students will be free to pick the other two languages.
Earlier, students had to study three languages - English and the mother tongue from Class 1 while the third language made its way at the secondary stage. But now the learning of all three will have to start from Class 1.
"From now on, it will be mandatory for students to learn Bengali in schools. The schools affiliated to other boards (ICSE/CBSE) will have to make Bengali as an optional subject from Class 1, giving students the option to choose it either as second or third language," Mr Chatterjee said.
The minister said the decision was prompted following feedback that Bengali was not being offered as an option in many schools.
Welcoming the move, noted historian and writer Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri said, "Why will our children not know Bengali? It is a fact that students in many schools do not have Bengali in their curriculum. The state's initiative is laudable."
Last month, the central government proposed to make Hindi compulsory till Class 10 in north India but rejected a recommendation that it be made mandatory for students in non-Hindi speaking states as well. Hindi is a compulsory language in north India till Class 8. In Classes 9 and 10, CBSE students have the option of studying some other language including Sanskrit.
(With inputs from PTI)