[lg policy] Bangalore: leave language choice to parents

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 6 15:15:57 UTC 2009

Bangalore: Parents of children attending private primary
English-medium schools are an anxious lot. With the state's appeal
regarding the language policy pending in the Supreme Court, they are
worried that the final outcome of the case will affect the legal
foundation of their children's schools.

In a cross-fire Kannada as a medium of instruction shouldn't be forced
on childrenThe state government, meanwhile, has staunchly defended its
medium-of-instruction policy: the requirement that in grades 1-5,
either the child's mother tongue or Kannada should serve as the medium
of instruction is in consonance with the Constitution of India. The
comprehensive language policy of the state was declared in an order of
April 29, 1994.

The state government decided in 2008 to make Kannada the compulsory
medium of education in primary classes. The state has also argued that
it cannot be held to be violating any constitutional provisions by
disallowing primary education in English. The High Court, hearing a
case filed by some private schools, held that the state could not
impose a medium of instruction on private schools. The state has since
appealed to the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear the plea
although it has refused to stay the High Court order.

Thus the fate of nearly 3,800 schools in the state hangs in balance.
Parents have continued to seek admission in these schools, and many of
the schools have expressed a willingness to defy the government.
President of the Karnataka Unaided Schools Managements' Association,
GS Sharma says that the Association's lawyer is preparing a petition
that will charge the government with contempt of court for disallowing
English as medium of instruction despite the High Court order.

Primary and secondary education minister Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri
said, "We have approached the Supreme Court, we are waiting for its
judgement. Until we get a judgement, we have no plans of revising the
policies. The people have to abide by government policy.The city
consists of a floating population, but even the non-Bangaloreans are
bound to learn Kannada. We see no need for flexibility in this

Parents are naturally worried about their children. Saraswathy Murthy,
a housewife, whose child goes to the Marian Primary School,
Vijayanagar, said, "I cannot agree with the government in the matter
of medium of instruction. I would like my child to get a good
education and be fluent in English. I would not want her to have to
shift to English medium later, after having completed her primary
school in Kannada. Such decisions should be up to parents to make, why
must the government interfere?" Murthy holds that if left with no
choice in the matter after the judgement of the Supreme Court, she
would move her child to an ICSE or CBSE school.

Gayatri Devi, a government employee, too feels that the government
need not make such decisions on her behalf. "My daughter Ananya is in
class 2. I am not against learning Kannada and Ananya studies it as a
language. Why should she be forced to attend classes where all
subjects are taught in Kannada? Should not the government allow
parents to make these decisions for their children?"


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