Medium of education in mother tongue?
Medium of education compulsory or voluntary?
Who has the fundamental right to choose?
Parents, state governments or the courts?
There is a 5-judge Constitution Bench enquiring the matter!
There is the Karnataka High Court order not to close down a 104 year old Kannada medium school!
Medium of education in a time of extreme linguistic fanaticism!
There is the famed 104 year old Kannada medium school in Bangalore under the name of Arya Vidyashala school, established in 1909.This school has been steadily losing strength as more and more students nowadays prefer to go to the English medium schools.
This is an issues that had been debated off and on and hat is now interesting is that the matter is before the 5-member Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.
So, the questions posed by the learned judges are significant for they raise the questions under relevant articles of the Constitution (Article 350A) which talks of enabling the states to make education possible in the mother tongue.
The state governments stick to their innumerable rules and state acts to regulate and promote education in the mother tongue.
Now, primary education is critical to a child and at this age it is mother tongue that plays such a critical role. This is admitted by educators of all categories.
The question of the parent’s choice to send their children in primary classes to be taught in English is the controversial part of the debate.
Yes, as the honourable courts have observed the world has changed and we live in a globalising world and children must be given the education the parents think that would make their wards globally competitive.
The Constitution Bench used the very word: to make the children globally competitive is a very desirable goal. And also, the choice of the medium of education is the fundamental right of the parents.
This much looks clear and simple. The controversy arises only when the state governments find themselves in a ticklish situation when the demand for mother tongue is given a go by the parents for various reasons.
In some places in TN, there are now a boom in a type of education, the schools are established by groups of teachers themselves and they run the schools very “successfully” and have amassed great wealth by running these schools like plain tuition centres.
They ensure 100 per cent pass and also promise in many cases admissions to medical and engineering colleges. This had led to a situation that normal and health and balanced education system is sabotaged.
There is any number of bad practices, blatant corruption at every stage. The very same education dept officials may be minor or we don’t know the very higher up are all allegedly hand in glove, mass copying etc is normal and standard practices in these schools.
The private education sector is so corrupted by various external and even internal (because the education minister downwards are incompetent etc) factors.
The society at large suffers. Suffers irreparably!
The point is that question of English medium schools is itself demands some clarifications. Now, they are there everywhere, it is important to ask what role the state government has to play.
Surely, the state government has a right and duty to ensure that education at the primary level is wholesome and healthy and helps to the development of the personality of the child. More so at the time of so many new and innovative legislation like the RTE to preference for the girl child and many other innovations to urge the children to go to school, midday meals to cycles and now other incentives like uniforms, books etc., the state has to see that there is no larger deterioration by way of the entry of unscrupulous elements in the education for simple and blatant exploitation of the gullibility of the parents, more so the uneducated and poor parents from weaker and economically backward sections.
Who can object to the state governments interfering with such negative developments?
Surely, any enlightened government, with adequate deliberations, must come forward to prevent blatant exploitation of the gullibility of the parents and society to fall prey to very many bogus English medium schools.
The state also has a paramount duty to promote the mother tongue, the very foundation of the society’s core beliefs, culture and religious and ritualist and moral enhancement, like prayers, singing and dancing and other ethical learning of some basic texts. These are only available in the mother tongue.
How the children say their prayers in English? They have to sing their prayer songs only in their mother tongue. How they sing the other songs, their cultural practices.
Much more than these basic issues, Indian education at the moment is undergoing a great crisis.
Crisis of vision, perspective and a far more important issue of drawing up an education system that makes historic sense to India at its present stage of evolution as an independent nation, as a great democracy.
We have to instil some of the basic values only in the mother tongue.
We have to, in one word, lay the Macaulay Ghost! In one way or other.
Bilinguism, trilinguism, try all alternatives. Look at India’s history. Sanskrit, Persian was all court languages.
Indians learnt the languages for various reasons. Now too they would learn them for their own benefits. States and the Centre have the rights and duties to preserve and promote the languages. Consensus, not confrontation, is the way to go. Please also read the latest biography of MaCaulay by Zareer Masani! Thank you!