[lg policy] 2 crore Indian children study in English-medium schools

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 2 15:36:22 UTC 2012

20 million Indian children study in English-medium schoolsAnahita
TNN | Mar 2, 2012, 05.47AM IST



[image: 2 crore Indian children study in English-medium schools]
The last eight years have seen a staggering rise in the number of children
studying in English-medium schools across the country.
NEW DELHI: The last eight years have seen a staggering rise in the number
of children studying in English-medium
the country. Data on school enrolment for 2010-11 shows that, for
the first time, the number of children enrolled in English-medium schools
from Classes I to VIII has crossed the two crore mark - a 274% rise since

For the fourth year in a row, English is the second-largest medium of
instruction in India, ahead of both Bengali and Marathi, according to a
yet-to-be released report on countrywide school enrolment by the National
University of Education, Planning and Administration (NUEPA) under its
District Information System for Education.

"The collection of information under DISE has improved over the years, and
now gives a true picture of enrolments by medium of instruction across the
country," says Professor Arun C Mehta of NEUPA.

While Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and English have all seen a rise in enrolment
in 2010-11 when compared with the previous year, the rate of increase is
highest for English.

While there is an obvious demand for the English language in India,
academicians and policy-makers believe state governments are handling this
demand in an extremely unimaginative manner.

"There is a wealth of research which shows that the best medium of
instruction for a child to have a conceptual understanding of a subject is
his mother-tongue. Just because people want their children to study English
does not mean that they need to enroll them at an English-medium school. If
Indian-language schools did a good job teaching English, parents would not
need to send their children to English-medium schools," said R
vice-chancellor of NUEPA. He himself studied in a Kannada-medium school
where he picked up good English, he pointed out.

"There has been extensive research to show that the number of years for
which children study a language does not necessarily translate into them
being able to speak or read the language. It is seen that if you show
mastery over your first language and can read and write it fluently, you
can learn a second language, such as English, a lot faster," says
Professor Anita
Rampal <http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/Anita-Rampal>, dean of the
faculty of education at Delhi University. She points to countless instances
where textbooks are in English but children can't make sense of them.

"Several states have seen a spike in the number of private schools, many of
which call themselves English medium, though they don't teach much
English," says Govinda. But Vinod
an architect of India's Right to Education Bill, feels the recent
NUEPA<http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/NUEPA>data should not
be interpreted as a rise in enrolment in private
English-medium schools alone, as several states, such as Jammu & Kashmir
and Punjab, are themselves adopting English medium for government schools.

Raina, who has studied the education system in J&K and Punjab, says that
teachers in these states are bitter about being forced to teach in English
without being equipped to do so, with disastrous consequences. "This is not
simply a question of one teacher having to teach the English language, but
about all teachers suddenly having to transact in English," he says. "That
government schools are turning English medium does not, in any way, mean
that either teachers or students at these schools can speak a word of
English," says Raina.

Rampal points to an urgent need for a well-deliberated national language
policy, in the absence of which individual states have taken arbitrary
decisions regarding English.

Many, like Shyam Menon, director of Ambedkar University, believe that the
rise in the number of children at Englishmedium schools reflects the
aspirations of India's middle class, which believes that an English
education translates into greater upward mobility, irrespective of the
quality of education delivered at many schools.


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