Kannada scholars oppose English from Standard I
Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri May 13 12:38:19 UTC 2005
>>From the Deccan Herald,
Deccan Herald Front Page Detailed Story
Kannada scholars oppose English from Standard I
Intellectuals and writers stressed the need for a comprehensive government
policy to protect Kannada.
Kannada scholars on Thursday united to protest strongly any proposal to
introduce English as a subject from class I in schools under the State
syllabus. The government had, a few weeks ago, announced its resolve to
call for a public opinion on the issue as English is gaining in importance
for students in a globalised world. Urging the government to bring about a
policy to save Kannada, scholars expressed that it was important to
inculcate Kannada from an early age to protect the States culture.
Call for policy
At a day-long brainstorming session organised by the Kannada Sahitya
Parishat in which Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ramalinga Reddy
participated, intellectuals and writers stressed that the government
should come out with a comprehensive policy to protect Kannada in a
globalised world. Scholars felt that schools and people from outside the
State living in Karnataka are taking advantage of the Supreme Court order
allowing education in ones mother tongue to push Kannada as last priority.
Though Thursdays meeting was convened to discuss problems faced in the
education sector, the language and medium of instruction debate dominated
most of it.
Legal expert C H Hanumantharaya said the court order mandating education
in the mother tongue had encouraged English medium schools further. The
Karnataka High Court has stayed attempts to mandate Kannada as the medium
of instruction in English medium schools set up before the year 1994.
These schools have no problem teaching Kannada as a language.
But whether it has to be the medium of instruction has led to confusion
and the government has been helpless on the issue, said Mr Hanumantharaya.
The government is sure to lose any campaign if it continues its usage of
the term medium, felt education expert S R Rohidekar. As the SC has
insisted on mother tongue as medium of instruction, Christian institutions
are insisting that English is their mother tongue. Barring Anglo-Indians,
no one in India can claim English as their mother tongue but several
non-Kannadiga institutions are using English.
It is possible to encourage Kannada only if the government mandates
education in the regional language, local language or administrative
language. In any case, parents have the right to choose their childrens
medium of learning. Other states like Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have lost the
battle in the Supreme Court to make their language compulsory. But
Maharashtra cleverly ordered that local language is compulsory as the
second language and Marathi is thus learnt everywhere, said Mr Rohidekar.
Expert P V Narayana felt that the State must have a two-language policy on
the lines of Tamil Nadu and not impose three languages on students. Hindi
can be taught as an optional, he felt.
Lack of teachers
English, a language alien to students, should not be imposed. Yet, in a
globalised world, introducing English in class V is rather delayed, it
must be brought in by class III, felt critic and writer Dr L S Sheshagiri
Rao. English is the stumbling block in the way of rural students
development. This would help them, he said. There are no teachers who can
effectively teach English in rural areas. If it is introduced from class
I, implementation will be more difficult. So teachers must be trained, he
said. Kannada must be compulsory at the kindergarten stage itself, from
classes I to VII and later in higher education too, said writer Baraguru
Kannada Sahitya Parishat president Chandrashekar Patil placed a slew of
demands before the government: compulsory Kannada in Central syllabi
schools; improving quality in private and government schools; grants for
Kannada medium schools; appointment of Kannada teachers for Urdu schools.
The governments policy has been to mandate Kannada as the medium of
instruction and there are no second thoughts on this, said Primary and
Secondary Education Minister Ramalinga Reddy on Thursday.
The State Cabinet will discuss and decide on mandating Kannada till class
VII (it is now the compulsory medium of instruction for primary schools)
and on introducing English as a language in class III or V, Mr Reddy said
at the meeting. MLA Vatal Nagaraj, who was present at the meeting,
objected to the governments proposal to take up a survey to gauge public
opinion on teaching English from class I. He, later, walked out of the
meeting opposing the move.
*English from class III or V
*Kannada compulsory till class VII
*Also in pre-primary classes
*Vatal opposes survey
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