Every language is now a pool of several other languages together. Photograph:( Others )
A discussion on language policy ensued in a meeting of School Education Department of Telangana when the DEOs (District Education Officers) and MEOs (Mandal Education Officers) were discussing how they were successful in increasing government school enrollment by changing the medium of instruction to English in several schools. While all present at the meeting were highly appreciative of the step, I was not.
I happened to be called to the meeting, among a host of other people from different organisations, as a representative of HSPA (Hyderabad Schools Parents’ Association).
If the objective is only to increase the government school enrollment then the step is indeed beneficial, I said. However, if the objective is to ensure good quality education to secure the future of the students and the state then the step could backfire for a lot of reasons.
English is not a native language of India and, hence, teaching and learning English is not and will not ever be easy for a huge majority of the population. Persisting with English as a medium has already been leading to a great number of our students being proficient neither in English nor in their mother tongue(s). Given the quality of teachers and the aids available for this new expansion of English, the video below will give you an idea of the problems associated with teaching English in India.
Much worse than the mere lack of proficiency in any language, this forceful imposition of a foreign language has been scarring the psyche of students with an erroneous notion of native language inferiority and English language superiority. Thus, English medium education is in no way a means of building a state which is confident, prosperous and respectful, if not proud of its culture, language, religion and heritage.
So, is Telugu (native language) medium education the answer?
Not at all. Imparting education in Telugu medium, in the present circumstances, is even more detrimental than imparting education in English. For anyone studying in Telugu medium, or in any other native language for that matter, is permanently stamped as a dimwit, unsuitable for any higher position or a profession, private or government, by none other than the government itself.
Why else would the government not allow Telugu (native language) medium students to become engineers, doctors, scientists, lawyers in the High Court or Supreme Court, or even join its own ranks as an IAS, IPS, IFS or an IRS officers? The height of insanity is such that the government would not allow the native language students to even fight for the country as commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. Pray, what does fighting have to do with knowing English? Do we fight with a language or with arms and ammunition?
If you keep all these professions and opportunities out of the purview of students studying in their native language, why on earth should anyone study in their native language?
So, is English medium the devil and native language medium the deep sea between which we have to choose one?
There are factors, for sure, other than language that effect and determine the economic prosperity of the country.
No! There is an alternative available that wades clear of both the devil and the deep sea and takes you close, in fact, to the garden of Eden.
This alternate route is of educating each child in the mother tongue or native language but ONLY AFTER first correcting the debilitating disadvantages that students of native language medium are saddled with by system, society and state.
Essential, however, to the dismantling of this system of discrimination nourished by the state is breaking the myth that English is essential for the progress and development of any person and by extension of the nation.
The myth persists only because people are not made aware of the actual facts. Some impeccable research and analysis have been done by Sankrant Sanu on this subject and I would really recommend all to watch this video for more.
There should be very little doubt in your mind about the irrelevance of English to progress and development of a nation, once you watch the video.
Let’s look at richest and poorest countries of the world (based on their per capita income) and how many of them use English as the official/business language. Only 4 of the richest 20 countries speak English and mind you the rising behemoth China uses no English.
20 richest countries based on GNP Per Capita (Others)
If we look at the list of the poorest 20 Countries based on GNP per capita.
20 poorest countries based on GNP Per Capita (Others)
There are 6 countries that speak English and yet continue to be amongst the poorest of the poor countries.
There are factors, for sure, other than language that effect and determine the economic prosperity of the country. And while the above data does establish a very strong correlation between native language and prosperity, establishing a causal relationship may require more data and research. Nonetheless, the data, I hope you will agree, certainly points towards a very high probability of such a causal relationship existing.
With the Telugu state gearing up for the World Telugu Conference, it might be a good idea for the issues raised in the article to be raised with the respective governments. The conference might be a good opportunity to demand the end of this “language apartheid” in the Telugu states at least. Setting up of an IIT or an AIIMS in the Telugu medium may be a good way to begin with and a good announcement to be made at the World Telugu Conference.
(Disclaimer: The author writes here in a personal capacity).