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NEP 2020: English Should Be The Mode of Instructions As It Is The Key To Jobs

NEP 2020: Mother Tongue Might Help Learning But English Is Globalized And Would Prove Beneficial In The Future

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has recommended that, whenever possible, education up to Class V, and ideally up to Class VIII, be taught in the mother tongue or local or regional language of students. At both levels, classical languages such as Sanskrit have also been suggested, while foreign languages will be offered at the secondary level. The rounds were regularly debated as to whether the mother tongue would be the appropriate way of educating primary school kids. While the government has encouraged mother tongue as a means of education, the idea is to improve Indian languages, not against the English language.

The Finance Commission (FC) is pressing for mother tongue promotion as the medium of instruction, proposing the allocation of Rs 1,065 crore for local language courses for two medical and two engineering colleges in each state between 2021-26, in line with the vision of the National Education Policy (NEP). Although the NEP talks about mother tongue education until grade 5, it lacks such stark facts, such as the country’s and even state’s plurality in language, and the reality that English has become the language of jobs in both India and globally.

But the FC charts a more realistic course; first of all, while talking about creating content, it emphasized the selection of opportunities for higher education before a headlong dive. The allocation will help to establish educational materials for technical courses and also help to assess the feasibility of a regional-language mediated learning focus. More importantly, it will cross the urban-rural gap in education, with records of students from state education boards dropping out of prestigious higher education institutions, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, unable to keep up with teaching due to English disabilities, year after year. To be sure, in a globalized environment, English is the lingua franca, but it has led to weaker learning outcomes in India. ASER reports from 2016 onwards indicate that English literacy in schools has been gradually deteriorating. Although 60.2% of Class 8 students were able to read basic sentences in English in 2009, this decreased to 46.7% in 2014 and further reduced to 45.2% in 2016. Also for those who could read words, the meaning of sentences could be clarified by just two thirds.

Although the NEP 2020  is seeking to overcome this, the difficulties of incorporating local languages in professional education must also be taken into consideration. Many journals and scientific papers are still in English and can take time to translate to local languages, even though the courses can be translated into local languages. Also, the faculty must be comfortable and well-versed in teaching topics in the local language, even though local language material may be given by using online courses. It will also be a challenge for classes in computer sciences, where whole programming languages are in English, to integrate local language instruction.

As most companies expect their employees to have a basic English proficiency, the Indian tech/medical graduate has done well globally and has been able to grab leadership positions in business/academia globally in no small measure due to English proficiency, the importance of which China’s likes are just now understanding, colleges must focus on remedial classes to improve English proficiency.

Although IITs administer an English proficiency exam for all first-year students and offer one semester of remedial courses, both services need to be expanded beyond the length of one semester. The government must bear in mind that less dropouts may be guaranteed by local language, but employability is a different ballgame in the globalized world.


Educators Take

According to Shailendra Sharma, principal advisor to the Director of Education of the Government of Delhi, the three primary determinants of child education are parents, teachers, and school administrators. A cooperation between these three stakeholders on all main topics, including language preference, depends on the progress of NEP 2020. Like many other states, Delhi has schools managed by numerous administrators and with diverse means of teaching. So far, sociological rather than pedagogical factors have determined the preference of the medium. But the three of them must now understand and interact frankly with each other that the ‘teaching medium’ is distinct from ‘learning a language’ per se.

Sharma suggests that the mother tongue should be the mode of teaching in the formative years, since it is clinically shown to be a safer choice for infants. However, the schools will be able to reassure the parents that their child would not be left behind by developing a sound language learning architecture that involves hearing, communicating, reading and writing fluently in one of the three languages that the states are allowed to teach.

Sayantan Dasgupta, head of the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Jadavpur, says that as long as the mother tongue is used to provide education without impairing the learning of the English language by students, it is a workable solution. Since it is a means through which students can gain global access, English should be allowed to exist side by side right from grade I. In fact, he adds, it is not only the mother tongue that needs to be emphasized in our education system, but literary production in other languages. Students should be introduced to India’s rich literary and cultural heritage, which resides in several Indian’ bhasahas’-about 22 official languages and over 600 unofficial ones. Dasgupta also calls for students to have access to the variety of Indian languages and books in their native language to translate textbooks and resource materials into regional languages. Dasgupta has a surprising perspective on whether the transition to mother tongue is going to affect teachers who have long been accustomed to teaching English education. It is a matter of re-learning one’s own vocabulary to meet students’ needs. In the rural belt, there are areas where access to English by students is so limited that teachers end up teaching Shakespeare in their mother tongue. Because it is the language children speak at home, their academic advancement will not be impeded.



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