Published: 31st October 2020
Is English sneaking in under a COVID-19 umbrella into our education system?
The infiltration of English seems to be a case of taking (undue?) advantage of the confusion imposed by COVID-19 on the educational scene
One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way Frank Smith (b 1927), Contemporary psycho-linguist
Language lobbies have been active and even violent in the southern states of India, often raising the bogey of Hindi imposition or infiltration. This applied to a lesser degree to English as well. But the previous government in Karnataka, headed by HD Kumaraswamy, brazenly introduced English in 1,000 government schools and got away with it with Kannada protagonists looking the other way. Now, English is having new conquests under the umbrella (Or, is it a guise?) of COVID-19. But first, the facts as reported by Pearl Maria D’Souza in The New Indian Express from Bengaluru on September 25.
The state will embark on a major project to more than double the number of government schools imparting education in English, which is being introduced in Class 1. This year, as many as 1,400 schools have been identified by the primary and secondary education department to start teaching in English. Of these, 1,000 are Kannada schools and 400 are Urdu schools. This is in addition to the 1,000 schools that already exist, and have gained popularity among students.
The textbooks are bilingual — they will be printed in English and Urdu/Kannada, a department official said. The order to print the books has already been issued for this year, and admissions have begun in these schools, the official added. The department’s English medium school scheme was a hit the previous year, with more than 30,000 students having enrolled. Several were turned down because of the department’s mandate to enroll not more than 30 students per class.
The number of students in the 1,400 student schools is limited to 30 per classroom. With this, the department will see an additional intake of 42,000 students in government English medium schools this year. The schools are distributed across 224 constituencies. This comes at a time when the government is seeing an influx of private school students into government schools, and some of them are those who had enrolled in private schools under the government’s Right To Education scheme.
So, the infiltration of English seems to be a case of taking (undue?) advantage of the confusion imposed by COVID-19 on the educational scene. Or is this a case where people have been waiting for a move of this magnitude for a long time and are just happy to send their kids here? That is the question.