16/11/2019 The Hindu Editorials Notes- Mains Sure Shot
Question – Comment on the decision of making English as a medium of instruction in government schools. Is it a threat to our native language?(250 words)
Context – the A.P government’s decision.
Why in news?
- Andhra Pradesh government has decided to make English the only medium of instruction in all government schools from Class I to Class VI from the next academic year.
What is the controversy?
- There is a controversy due to several questions raised by the opposition parties who are concerned that
- a) Telugu will die a natural death;
- b) other states take pride in their language and are at best running parallel English medium schools;
- c) when other countries such as Germany, Japan, China, and Russia teach only in their mother tongue, why can’t we?;
- d) it will be difficult to introduce English medium from next academic year given the quality of our teachers, and students will be put to inconvenience.
The counter view:
- Sampati, a first-year nursing student of the National Medical College in Kolkata, committed suicide on Saturday. In her suicide note, she cited difficulty in following lectures in English as the reason for her extreme step as also the weight of expectations from her debt-ridden family. Tragedies like that of Sampati are not isolated.
- There have been several such suicides in higher institutes of learning in Andhra Pradesh in the last few years. In higher education at times meritorious students fail to perform well despite their capabilities because most of the higher education is in English.
- Comparing ourselves with Germany et al is worse. Germany developed science and technology on its own. It has a different history unlike us who were introduced to modern education by the English and for us, higher education is available only in English even now.
- English and Telugu medium schools have existed simultaneously in the state for decades. It is mostly the children of poor families who go to the state run schools where education is imparted in Telugu medium. It is not that the kids of the poor bear the sole responsibility of saving a language. Even if they are educated in english medium, Telegu will not be dead.
- depriving the poor of upward mobility and English education is no way to protect it. Telugu is mandatory till Class XII. To promote it further, what is needed is affirmative action. Steps must be taken to inculcate a taste and flair for language and literature by making students familiar with classics and culture.
- At present, no such effort is being made and Telugu medium schools are simply making modern education difficult by artificially translating English terms and making higher learning experience a nightmare for the poor students.
- Of all the questions it is only the question of training the teachers in such a short span of time that need to be thought deeply about because it is a herculean task to train teachers to teach in English since there is hardly six months left for the next academic year. The government will have to train 98,000 teachers by then.
Will it be difficult for the students to pick up?
- There is no doubt that the children will find it difficult to transit from the old to the new. Even the teachers will find it difficult but in the long term it will be beneficial for both.
- As per a study by three US-based academics including linguist Steven Pinker, children have a natural ability to learn languages until they attain the age of 17.4 years. If they begin before 17, they have greater chances of doing well.
- Those who start before turning 10 do very well. Obviously, introducing children to English medium at an early age — and also Telugu as a language – will bear better results.
- For them to learn everything all over again in English after going to college is turning out to be next to impossible.
What is translanguaging?
- According to an Oxford University Press paper titled, “The Role of the First Language in English-Medium Instruction,” the concept of ‘translanguaging’ is catching up and could prove a better bet than teaching students exclusively in one language.
- Translanguaging means usage of both English and mother tongue in school work – which will happen in our schools once they are converted to English medium. It could well be a blessing for children.
- It will also help the children from rural areas to harness opportunities abroad.
The history of the development of english education in India:
- Initially, British East India Company was not concerned with the development of education system because their prime motive was trading and profit-making.
- To rule in India, they planned to educate a small section of upper and middle classes to create a class “Indian in blood and colour but English in taste” who would act as interpreters between the Government and the masses.
- This was also called the “downward filtration theory”.
- The did it through a series of acts and committees. Chronologically they are as follows:
- 1813 Act and Education.
- General Committee of Public Instruction, 1823
- Lord Macaulay’s Education Policy, 1835
- Wood’s Dispatch, 1854
- Hunter Commission (1882-83)
- Sadler Commission.
To conclude/ Way ahead:
- English education opens a vista of opportunities not only in the country but also abroad.
- Most of the books of higher education in all disciplines are in english. A good proficiency in this language will help the students better comprehend them. It will also facilitate research in science and technology.
- As discussed earlier, it will not be a threat to telugu language because a language survives not because it is taught in schools or colleges but because of the richness of its history and culture. This needs to be worked upon. This needs to be facilitated along with Telugu being compulsory till class 12th.
- If proper training can be given to the teachers and all other supportive measures are in place, this step can lead to positive results.
Note: Today there is another article titled ‘The fountainhead of India’s economic malaise’. It is about the state of the economy. We have covered numerous articles on the Indian economy. These are the additional highlights.
The article states that:
- A nation state’s economy is also a function and reflection of state of its society. The functioning of any economy is the result of the combined set of exchanges and social institution . Mutual trust and confidence are the bedrock of such social transaction among people that foster economic growth. Our social fabric of trust and confidence is now torn and ruptured.
- There is strong fear and distrust in various agents of economy like entrepreneurs , policy makers and bureaucrats , technological startups , industrialists , bankers and other institutions. This adversely affects the economic transaction in society leading to economic slowdown and stagflation in end. Loss in trust in various institutions and lack of option of grievance resolution reduce risk appetite for undertaking new projects and creating jobs. The toxic combination of pervasive fear , distrust and helplessness is stifling economic activity and hence economic growth. The root case is government’s ” mala fide unless proven otherwise” doctrine of governance.
- India is facing the risk of stagflation – as rising retail inflation along with declining employment and GDP growth.
- It is the belief of the author that India’s fragile economic situation calls for the twin policy actions of boosting demand through fiscal policy and reviving private investment through ‘social policy’ by inspiring trust and confidence in the economic participants of our society. Economic participants respond to social and economic incentives, not diktats or coercions or public relations.
- India should try to capitalize on the economic situation in the form of declining chinese economy , slowing down of global oil prices and majority government in center.