Saturday, June 10, 2006

English from Standard 1 in Maharashtra

Today's edition of The Times of India carries an article titled "Maharashtra introduces English from first standard".
(I was unable to get a link to the article on the website, will update later)

This is a welcome announcement and I am glad to note that one of the more progressive states of this country has gone ahead and proven its tag. Ofcourse there is the case of the suicides in Vidharbha, however, the government has once again shown its visionary prowess in taking this step.

In Karnataka, on the contrary, a lot of such decisions are influenced by vernacular groups who voluntarily stand for the protection of the local language and its literature.

I have failed to understand the concept of regional languages taking an adverse impact with the advent of English. There are no facts to prove this. I have known quite a few Kannada speaking youth who are equally well versed with Kannada and English. They, rightly, take pride in their mother tongue and also show keen interest in English literature. If at all anything, their English schooling has embellished them with greater pride in their mother tongue. Primarily because they are able to see both sides of the proverbial coin.

On the other hand, children deprived of English during their early formative years have found it difficult to pick up the language later on in their lives. Let's face the harsh truth of recent years - globalisation is here to stay. Whatever you might want to do, any career you might want to venture into, English has become a must.

Every career you take up is directly or indirectly linked to a chain of careers and companies that span the world. Therefore, why deprive the children in government schools from getting this advantage early on?

There could infact be a negative effect of not teaching English early enough. Children deprived of this "global language" wind up without suitable jobs and therefore develop angst and frustration. This angst might either get directed towards English or towards the regional language, depending on the circumstances. Clearly, this is not what the nation wants.

Right now India is being led ably by its powerful and energetic youth. It is India's duty to provide its children with world class education and with tools to equip them to stand at global junctions.
This is the least our country can do. India can shine only when all its children are given equal opportunities.

Excerpt from the ToI article:

Taking a cue from billions of Chinese taking to English, the Maharashtra government has decided to introduce the global language from Standard I from 2006 in all state schools. Officials believe this move will help stem the tide of students to English-medium schools.
Quote from the principal secretary to primary education and sports - "While the mother tongue is important, there is a global demand for English-speaking people.........The country has been divided into two Indias - those who know English and thos who don't".

Nice article and I think it is a great fillip to the effort of all at the Dreamschool Foundation.

1 comment:

Kaushik Das said...

I think the feeling of antagonism between vernacular languages and English stems from the imposition of the British culture by their officials in that era. However, the condition is not the same now.

A proficiency in language, not just English but French (many parts of Africa and western Europe) or Spanish (South and Central America) or Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal) or Chinese (well, they are the most populous) opens the world for us. Even a basic knowledge of Hindi helps in the whole of North and Central India.

So it is about the love of languages and the fact that languages are a means of communication and not an end. Somewhere in one's life, one has to be educated with this idea.