The Question That Won A Big Battle

primary school

In Andhra Pradesh Assembly the anti-English medium, opposition leader, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, surrendered in a debate on 12 December, 2019. He said “we are not opposing introduction of English medium in Government schools’. With this surrender all his supporting media network, street dharna teams,the forces of pro-private English medium schools will now follow the suit. Thepro-English medium in Government schools forces won the battle with fundamental question: Where are your children studying? Are they studying in Telugu medium or in English medium school?

Where are the anti-English medium media management children studying? Where are the road rolling agitator’s children studying? In two Telugu states they got thoroughly exposed before the rural masses. They lost the battle very badly. But at the national level such forces are still very strong.

So far number of commissions were constituted to study the question of medium of instruction in Indian schools and its viability. Most of the commissions recommended that studying in mother tongue( regional languages) would be better for the children’s learning. But all such commission chairpersons (men and women) and members sent their children and grand children to private English medium schools. In many cases their children studied in schools that do not teach even one subject in that regional language, which is called their mother tongue.

This duplicity of the top elite of India destroyed the school education system in India. We do not stand anywhere near the Chinese school education standards. The reason was China has only one national language—Mandarin. Now they adopted English as second language as a teaching language, across the school education. For the last one decade the Chinese school standards have been said to have achieved superior status to even that of American and European school standards.

The regional language lovers in India know pretty well we do not stand anywhere near the school education standards of China. Yet they do not want to evolve one national language in India. The scope to emerge as Indian national language is possible when English medium becomes the school education medium across the country. However, such language policy cannot destroy regional languages. Instead every child in India will becomes bilingual—English and regional language. That will improve our standards enormously.

In Andhra Pradesh the defeated forces will now knock the doors of AP High Court from there to the Indian Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has already made it clear that about the medium of instruction the courts cannot interfere.

Education in our constitution is in the concurrent list. Both the Central and several State Governments are running English medium schools. The Centre runs Kendriya Vidhyalayas in English medium from LKG to 12th. All the newly started model schools all over India are run in English medium only. Several state Governments including Andhra Pradesh and Telangana run several residential schools in English medium.

Even all the private English medium schools are run with the state and central Governments recognition. That is part of the state policy. If the courts object to the Andhra Pradesh policy of English medium in Government schools all English medium schools in the country need to be closed. The children have a fundamental right to learn school education in the language that they want. Judiciary cannot undo that fundamental right. If the state does not run such language school the child can go to such school wherever it is or the child can establish his/her own school to learn that language.

In fact several private schools won the cases about the right to teach any language without any controls. That is the reason why many rich private schools teach many foreign languages but not a single Indian regional language. A.P is a mother of costly private English medium school chains. If the A.P Government cannot run English medium schools in the villages it should close down all English medium schools in the state. Then the problem also becomes that of the nation.

The constitution is silent about the language of instruction in schools and colleges quite deliberately. Dr.B.R Ambedkar foresaw the Nehruvian strategy of private English medium and state Government regional language school education, as he lost the battle for getting enough votes to recognize English as the national language in the Constituent Assembly . The Shudras/Dalits/Adivasis in his times were meant to be pushed into regional language education whereas the top three communities—Brahmins, Vaisyas and Ksatriyas–were likely to get English medium private education. That is what exactly happened in the last seventy years.

In India as of now the law makers, the law adjudicators like bureaucrats, the judges who over see justice educate their own children in private English medium schools. Of course, that is their own right to do so. But all of them must recognize the right of the poor to get the same medium of education free of cost in the state institutions. Human fundamental rights cannot be in operation based on their wealth.

However, the battle for the English medium education of the poor children of India who cannot be sent by their parents to private English medium schools will finally depend on the policy formulated by the Government of A.P. and that policy passing through all hurdles including the judicial hurdle.

2020-21 will be a revolutionary educational year in India.

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist, social activist and author of many books, the latest being From Shepherd Boy to an Intellectual—My Memoirs




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