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Boost English, says draft education policy

The dominance of English, the draft NEP 2019 says, has resulted in marginalisation of large sections of society based on language.

Updated: Jun 06, 2019, 11.24 AM IST
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(This story originally appeared in on Jun 06, 2019)
NEW DELHI: In the midst of the controversy over “imposition of Hindi” as part of continuation of the three-language formula, what has been missed in the draft National Education Policy (NEP) is the proposal to make English “available and taught in a high quality manner at all government and non-government schools”.

Even though the NEP committee took a critical view of English becoming a language of the elite, it has observed that since most high-level scientific journals are predominantly in English, it is important for children to become bilingual in science and be able to communicate science fluently both in their home/local language and in English.

In the section of “Multilingualism and the Power of Language”, the NEP committee observed that “… there has been an unfortunate trend in schools and society towards English as a medium of instruction and as a medium of conversation and the reason being … since Independence, the economic elite of India have adopted English as their language; only about 15% of the country speaks English, and this population almost entirely coincides with the economic elite.”

The dominance of English, the draft NEP 2019 says, has resulted in marginalisation of large sections of society based on language, keeping them out of high-paying jobs and higher socio-economic strata as it recommends equitable development of native Indian languages along with teaching of English in all government-run schools.

Advocating for multilingualism to be considered a boon and an opportunity for learning rather than a burden, the draft NEP while suggesting teaching of English in all government schools, says, “In particular, taking into account the enhanced abilities of young children to learn languages, and to help break the current divide between the economic elite and rest of the country, in addition to teaching languages native to India, English must also be available and taught in a high quality manner at all government and non-government schools. The emphasis should be on functionality and fluency.”

It also says that to be in sync with technologically advanced countries, “it is important for children (especially those who intend to pursue scientific subjects at a postgraduate level) to become bilingual in science and be able to communicate science fluently both in their home/local language and in English”.

The draft policy also states that in order to strengthen madrasas, maktabs and other traditional or religious schools, and modernising their curriculum, financial assistance will be provided to introduce English and other subjects in their curriculum. The draft also proposes creation of Textbooks, workbooks, and other teaching-learning materials for adult literacy and critical life skills- both in Hindi and English.

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