Andhra Wants To Teach Students In English, But This Seemingly Beneficial Move Has Become Controversial
The Andhra Pradesh government now wants to make English the medium of instruction in state-run schools.
While the move is prima facie laudable, apprehensions are being raised over its real intent, and whether it is just another ploy by global forces to eliminate local culture in favour of anglicisation.
Last week, the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government in Andhra Pradesh decided to introduce English medium in government schools from first to the eighth standard.
The move by the YSR Congress-led government has stirred a controversy with even Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu being dragged into it.
As per the government’s plan, the medium of instruction will become English instead of Telugu, in all government-run schools starting from the next academic year (June 2020).
The state government has now changed its plan to introduce English medium from the first to the sixth standard. It also meant that the state wouldn't have Telugu or Urdu as the medium of instruction once the plan was implemented.
Andhra Pradesh Education Minister A Suresh told the media, revealing the government’s plan, that the State’s primary language Telugu would not be neglected. It would be made a compulsory subject, he said.
The medium of instruction will slowly be made English for the remaining standards in subsequent years. Teachers would be trained to teach in English, while new ones will be tested for their English proficiency before recruitment.
The Education Minister said the government wanted the students to fare well in competitive exams. The change will also prepare them for Information Technology and Software sectors.
The YSR Congress government’s move has been criticised by the Opposition parties, particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party, Telugu Desam and Jana Sena (founded by Telugu actor Pawan Kalyan).
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu also joined the chorus, warning that the introduction of English medium should not be at the cost of Telugu.
Telugu Desam chief and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said though English has to be learned for a career, the Telugu community will lose its presence if the language is not protected.
Pawan Kalyan said Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy should look at Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao and learn to protect Telugu language and culture.
The move has also led to allegations that it was aimed at propagating Christianity among the masses. Already, the State has overtaken Kerala for mass conversions to Christianity.
The Federation of Andhra Pradesh Teachers Association regretted that the State government had ignored recommendations on educational reforms. It pointed out that teaching in mother tongue will help students in primary schools.
Jagan Mohan Reddy responded to the criticisms and allegations, wondering where the children of the critics had studied. “They all should keep their hands in their hearts and say where their children studied,” he shot back.
The Chief Minister said it was imperative to make students employable to eradicate poverty. English, as a global language, would help the poor get jobs in the competitive world.
With the state illiteracy rate at 33 per cent being higher than the national rate of 27, focussing on primary education can help tackle the issue, he said, before taking a swipe at Pawan Kalyan’s personal life.
Jagan Mohan Reddy, in particular, said Pawan Kalyan had three wives and 4-5 children, wondering where they were studying. He, however, assured that Telugu and Urdu would be made ‘compulsory’ subjects.
The previous government led by Chandrababu Naidu also had plans to introduce English as a medium of instruction from primary schools. It issued a government order but the move was resisted, including by the teachers’ association.
In 2017, the Chandrababu Naidu government attempted to launch a pilot project by introducing English as a medium of instruction in select municipal schools in the State. But it did not take off with Jagan Mohan Reddy being one of the opponents.
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