Published: 12th January 2019
Are the students studying in vernacular medium falling behind the ones who have an English-medium education?
Defending the government’s move noted above, the Chief Minister said that the English-medium call was taken keeping in mind the future of children from the underprivileged sector
Many study multiple languages as hobbies or to expand their knowledge horizon. Language is also a passport to lucrative jobs – as English is in the burgeoning IT sector in India and worldwide. Yet, many do not have access to English-medium education like in Karnataka where the medium of instruction in government schools is Kannada. This subject came into focus following the decision of the Karnataka government to introduce English medium of instruction from the primary level in 1,000 schools. That brought to the fore the choice between basha (language) or bread (with butter added).
There was a violent clash of views on the subject at the 84th Akhila Bharata Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held at Dharwad from January 4 to 6. But views expressed by pro-Kannada and pro-English medium-wadis are highlighted here for readers to weigh them and respond. While this made for a lot of newspaper fodder, there were a lot of sentiments that were exchanged from both sides of the line.
In the first session on the second day, panellists urged Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to immediately withdraw the order of starting 1,000 English-medium schools from the next academic year. Educationist GS Jayadev said that “the government’s new initiative was a dangerous idea. We have no objection to teaching English as a language in government schools, but making it a medium of instruction will do harm to Kannada. English is not everything, it is just a language. People should not feel inferior if they don’t know English. Only 2 per cent of people can communicate in English in India. People should not feel inferior if they don’t know the language. The medium of instruction for children should be in Kannada as they grasp concepts better in their mother tongue. For learning any language, one needs an atmosphere. We don’t have an English language atmosphere here.”
Defending the government’s move noted above, the Chief Minister said that the English-medium call was taken keeping in mind the future of children from the underprivileged sector. He argued that imparting education in the regional language to one section of the society and in English to another had divided society. Only children of the privileged section had access to quality education and children of underprivileged sections were deprived of it. As a result, youth, especially from backward parts of the State, were failing to tap career potential. It is not right to deprive any child of accessing quality education in the guise of linguistic pride.
It was pointed out at the Sammelana session, that over the last four years, admissions in Kannada medium schools had reduced by 13 lakh while it had increased by 15 lakh in English-medium schools. It seems a clear case of children and their parents voting with their feet against Kannada medium schools. The numbers, of course, cannot and simply will not lie. And the mandate is extremely clear, be as it were. At the valedictory session, ex-CM Siddaramaiah said that the majority was in favour of imparting primary education in Kannada, without citing any study or data for the assertion.
PS: The Sammelana unanimously passed a resolution on its final day – Sunday 6, 2019 opposing the government’s move to introduce English as a medium of instruction in 1,000 government primary schools from 2019/20 and demanding withdrawal of the notification issued in this regard.