After Andhra, English in schools sparks debate in Telangana

The Telangana government’s decision to introduce English in all public schools in the state from the 2022-23 school year has sparked a debate on whether the move is practical and whether it will really benefit children. students.

While the cabinet’s decision was widely welcomed, all stakeholders are still waiting for the government to set guidelines to implement the decision.

The state cabinet at its January 18 meeting decided to introduce English in all public schools. He constituted an 11-member sub-committee headed by Education Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy to prepare the modalities for it. Members include the Minister of Information Technology and Industry, KT Rama Rao.

Telangana apparently took inspiration from neighboring Andhra Pradesh which made English education compulsory from primary to high school. The Andhra Pradesh High Court however overturned the order in April 2020 and the state government challenged the order in the Supreme Court.

Unlike Andhra Pradesh where the decision to introduce English media has drawn a strong backlash from opposition parties and various groups who have branded it an attempt to suppress the Telugu language and culture, Telangana is less likely to see a similar situation. However, students, parents and academics are all waiting to see the guidelines to be developed to implement the decision.

Some sections question this decision on practicality grounds, an apparent reference to the lack of sufficient numbers of English teachers in public schools, especially in rural areas.

Unlike its Telugu twin state, Telangana is unlikely to replace Telugu medium schools with English medium schools. Education department sources have hinted that state schools may have both English and Telugu mediums. It will be up to parents to decide what media they want for their children.

Public sector English medium schools will not be entirely new to Telangana, as the state already has around 3,000 public schools with English as the language of instruction. There are about 20 lakh students studying in 26,065 public schools in the state

An official pointed out that the decision to introduce English in public schools is in line with the state government’s emphasis on creating better job opportunities in a knowledge-based economy. “There is a growing realization that students who have studied in Telugu middle schools are lagging behind in the skills required for new jobs in several sectors, especially those related to emerging technologies,” he said. declared.

The state already operates the Telangana Academy of Knowledge and Skills (TASK) in partnership with the business sector to impart necessary skills to students leaving public educational institutions. Lack of communication in English is seen as a major barrier to these students acquiring new skills and preparing them for employment.

Another factor that may have led to the decision is the increase in student enrollment in English-language public schools, particularly after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure of several low-budget English schools due to the pandemic has increased demand for state schools. Falling parental incomes under the impact of the pandemic have also forced them to send their wards to public schools.

“English is an acclaimed language in many countries of the world. Government of Telangana has indeed come out with a wonderful idea to provide education to students in English. We will definitely create more competitive Indians which will help Telangana and India on the global front,” said Sunir Nagi, Principal of Pallavi Model School, Alwal and Treasurer of Sahodaya Complex of Hyderabad Schools (CBSE).

The National Backward Classes Welfare Association (NBCWA) welcomed the government’s decision. NBCWA President R. Krishnaiah opines that introducing English language of instruction in 26,000 public schools would benefit about 15 lakh SC, ST, BC and minority students, who otherwise, were unable to pursue an education in English in private schools.

He pointed out that many poor families ended up in debt, disposing of small properties to educate their children in English in private schools. “The government’s decision would help these families get their children educated in English,” he said.

“It’s a choice between the devil and the deep sea, as a great deal of research on early childhood learning clearly shows that children benefit from studying in their native language, but the initial benefits will only be sustained if children continue to learn and work with the mother language as it happens in Europe, China, Japan or any English speaking country Unfortunately in any of the Indian languages ​​including Hindi we have no developed a language to take care of higher education and work We have no vocabulary to handle engineering or medical professions So when a student switches to the English language for these purposes, he takes away all the benefits of early education in the vernacular,” said Ramakrishna Reddy, Founder and Principal of Manthan International School.

Does this mean that learning English from an early age is the solution? “Not necessarily, because language learning involves creating the whole rich linguistic environment of listening and speaking in the language before a child can learn to read and write. For the majority of students who study in public schools, this is not possible either at home or in school. English teachers alone will not suffice for the purpose, even if they are good. The training of teachers of English subjects is another great challenge, which can be overcome but only with huge investment and sustained attention Language labs, libraries with good storybooks and audio-video resources will be needed to get children comfortable with a language do we have the will and the resources?” he asked.

Many believe that a hybrid approach will be best. “Research has shown that for children under 10, it is fine if they learn in their mother tongue. However, I can understand the intention of the government, as parents are fond of English, as all the jobs are only available in English so a hybrid approach is Up to class 5 let the medium be Telugu with English as a second language and after class 5 the teaching medium can be English,” said Dinesh Victor, MD of SIP Academy, India’s largest children’s skills development organization.

SIP Academy director Sarala believes that rural school children would find it difficult to study in English and even finding a teacher locally would be difficult.

“It could be offered as an additional option for children and parents, as it is more futuristic. Only fear that it may not lead to more school drop-outs at primary level. However, teaching in English from upper secondary would help build their confidence,” she said.

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