Published: 11th November 2021
Former CAG Rajiv Mehrishi: Is NEP's plan to teach in mother tongue a lazy way to keep the competition away from the elite?
Mehrishi was speaking at the launch of IIM-A's Public Talk Series, on public policy related matters, titled India 2031: The Decade of Transformation on November 11
Does India lack real discussions on public policy? Former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Rajiv Mehrishi, thinks so. While speaking at an event conducted by the IIM Ahmedabad, Mehrishi said that pinpointing problems and writing about them in newspapers "is so cliched that they redefine the word cliche". While he suggested decentralised setups to manage issues like teacher absenteeism, he also said that imposing education in the mother tongue based only on the fact that it might be easier for the child is not right as all our professional courses are in English.
Mehrishi was speaking at the launch of IIM-A's Public Talk Series, on public policy-related matters, titled India 2031: The Decade of Transformation on November 11. "We are trying to run village schools through a central government scheme run by the state government, which is not done in any developed country. School-level education is a municipal function in most countries like the USA and the UK with some basic standards being set for the nation," said Mehrishi and added that statewide recruitment is probably the reason behind teacher absenteeism. "Take my state, Rajasthan, for example. Like any other state, it has regions that are more developed than the others — in this case, eastern Rajasthan is a little more educated. So if you do statewide recruitment, 80 to 90 per cent of the candidates would be from that region and if they are posted in Barmer in Jaislamer. He is not going to stay there because it is not fair to him — in the salary that he gets its not fair that he must go to Barmer and his colleague whose uncle is an MLA or an IAS officer gets posted in his hometown with the same salary. If the recruitment had been from within the block where the school is, it would give the teacher more incentive to stick to the school," he added.
Mehrishi said that laziness is probably the reason behind imposing the education in regional language module or it is plain and simple cynicism. "It's been mandated that school education in lower levels will be in Hindi or the relevant regional language. Now, it sounds very good and it is politically very expedient to do so but what is the reality? Is it correct that you force school children from villages to learn in a local language when all your professional courses are based on textbooks in English?" asked Mehrishi. The reason? Mehrishi thinks it might as well be just laziness. "We have taken the cliche that learning is fastest and best in mother tongue and we have not bothered to think about the implications for a country where professional education is in English. That's not true for Russia or China but it's true for India. Or is it just lip service to promote one's mother tongue and we impose it on the most helpless and hapless part of India. Or is it simple cynicism that we ensure that a large number of children don't end up competing with our (elite) children," he added.