Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SC's language lesson to schools: Teach in English

SC's language lesson to schools: Teach in English
Press Trust Of India
Published on Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 20:32 in India section
Tags: Kannada Vs English, Language Policy , New Delhi
CLASS APART: Supreme Court observes students who can't pick up English language may not get a good job.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday frowned upon the imposition of mother-tongue as a compulsory medium of instruction in educational institutions and warned it could go against the interests of students struggling in the competitive world dominated by English language.

A three judge bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan observed if states try to impose their mother-tongue on unwilling students, it could turn counter-productive and make them ineligible even for clerical jobs.

"They are unable to get even clerical posts. It is easy to say things. How do we survive in the world?" the bench told the Karnataka government for its decision to impose Kannada language as a compulsory medium of instruction for Class I to IV.

The apex court rejected the argument of senior counsel P P Rao appearing for the state who, quoting experts, claimed mother-tongue was essential to be imparted at an impressionable age for overall intellectual and cultural development of the child.

"Parents are ready to pay Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 for getting their children admitted in English medium schools. This is the real state of affairs. They do not want to send them to schools of their mother-tongue. It should be left to the parents," the bench observed.

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The apex court said if mother-tongue is sought to be imposed on the students, it would only further aggravate the problems of those studying in villages.

"People who study in mother tongues are not able to compete in medical and engineering exams. It is very easy to say that children should be taught in mother tongues, but the question is how to survive in this world. The best way out of this controversy would be to make all choices available but let the parents decide. Today private schools are charging Rs 30000-40000 but still parents are crazy to get their children admitted to English schools."
— Chief Justice of India, K G Balakrishnan

"Otherwise, students from villages can't compete with their peers in urban areas," the bench observed.

The apex court made the remarks while refusing to stay a Karnataka High Court judgement which had quashed an order passed by the state government making it mandatory for all schools to have Kannada language alone as a medium of instruction in all government and private schools from Class 1 to 1V.

The High Court also had asked the state to grant permission to those instituions which wanted to start new schools with English as a medium of instruction.

Karnataka government, instead of complying with the directions, filed a special leave petition in the apex court and declined to grant permission to new schools unless they complied with the condition for making Kannada as a medium of instruction.

It took the argument that the directions passed by the high court was not binding on it since the SLP was pending in the apex court.

However, some of the aggrieved institutions filed contempt petitions in the high court which initiated contempt proceedings against the state government which, in turn, moved the apex court for staying the same.

The apex court, while ordering that the contempt proceedings would remain "stayed", however, asked the state not to take any action against the schools which had applied for recognition.


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