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the language muddle

Education Muddle 

the link language

 The question of link language had loomed very large in the minds of the political leaders. It was argued forcefully that migration from a university in one state to a university in another would not be possible without a link language. This argument was later extended to school education also. At the same time, the political necessity of developing the local language could not be avoided. The result, a hotch potch which ruined the educational system. It must be noted that there was no attempt on the part of the powers that be to develop the Indian languages. Though the time honored system of setting up commissions and committees was followed but whether this was to do the job or buy time is not clear. Looking back, it can be seen that the delay did help in propagating that we can not do without foreign language as the link language. The time period fixed initially in the Constitution was extended and the Language Commission promised by the Constitution to be constituted after fifteen years was not done. The case of the regional languages as the language of higher learning was damaged by deliberate delay. As mentioned before, the taking up of the regional language was forced by the sectional politics. This emphasis on the regional language was seized by the Central Government to enter a field which was constitutionally denied to them. Today the educational scene is plagued by this desire of the Central Government to cater to its own clientele. In fact it was considered necessary to create its own clientele. Education was a State subject and there were Education Boards for each state. Earlier in the British days some Boards covered more than one state but in the new found state loyalty, new Boards were quickly set up to cater to their own states Then the Central Government suddenly felt deprived of an organization of their own for Elementary Education. It started with some model schools attached to regional institutes of education ostensibly to provide practice teaching for its trainee teachers. It then proceeded to set up Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghatan. This was ostensibly done to cater to the defence people who were supposed to be moving from one state to another. It was felt that with the emphasis on the regional language, these students will be at a disadvantage. Central Board of Secondary Education was then created to grant affiliation to these schools and a separate curriculum was drawn up. It was envisaged at that stage by some that this is a limited exercise to help the defence personnel. But this was not the final objective. The scope of KVS was quickly enlarged to cover the wards of the transferable Central Government employees and later to the privileged group from amongst other people. As in all other schemes the money available to this central organization was much more than what was available to the schools run by the state government and consequently they could pay more to their teachers and attract better personnel. One of the other reasons that the standards were higher was that the more affluent sections of society was sending their wards to these schools and also because of the higher resources the organization commanded.It must be said that the vested interests in the states saw to it that this organization received favourable treatment such as allotment of land at nominal price even though there was nothing in it for the general public of the state. As with other avenues, it was in tune with the formula, Government by the Government personnel, of the Government personnel and for the Government personnel. The result of this was that there was no emphasis on the regional language and CBSE deliberately adopted the two language formula in total disregard of the three language formula which the same Government was advising the state Governments to follow and implement. The Constitutional directive of primary language in mother tongue was just ignored. This has also resulted in the growth of an elite which could command an all India employment market and a deprived/ depressed category of students which was condemned to their state of domicile. As a reaction, the inability to get a job was directly related to non learning of English. The politician blamed the lack of knowledge of English for the stagnant employment market and proceeded to introduce English from class one. But at the same time they could not give up the loyalty to the regional language. Thus they added further to the confusion at the state board level. The mother tongue, the regional language, the national language, the world language all came together in the first year at school. The effect of this could not be anything except total confusion and chaos. Add to this the fact that there are still a number of schools with one teacher only for all the classes in the elementary level. It was systematically propagated that the standards of the CBSE schools were higher to facilitate the admission the wards of the more privileged in the better institutions of higher learning. The elite institutes like IIT set their standard of entrance examinations on the basis of the syllabi of CBSE. Together with the concentrated efforts of the NCERT who drew up model curricula (underlying all this was the assumption that one set of the scholars were more knowledgeable, experienced and pragmatic than other group of scholars mainly because this group was nearer to the central powers.) No one will seriously dispute that the centralization has always been the goal even while swearing by the decentralization. The next step of the CBSE was to start granting affiliation to schools outside the KVS system. But care was taken that only the elite organizations were to be allowed to be affiliated. This helped in creating the myth that their students were more intelligent than the students of the schools affiliated to state boards. The marking system was so changed that percentage of marks in the nineties became a routine thing. Most of the State Boards still go by the older system of evaluation of students which does not allow such percentages. Instead of emphasizing the differences in approach, the very standard of the students of other Boards are denigrated by the CBSE and the NCERT. And this became a reality for all those schools which could afford it, joined the CBSE bandwagon leaving the weaker schools in the State kitty. There is a fundamental question that is involved. Why should the two school systems be allowed to exist side by side. Why should one set of schools or one set of students be obliged to follow the constitutional requirement of teaching in the mother tongue and to adopt the three language formula for the sake of the national integration, while the other set of students, other set of schools is allowed to give a go by to these requirements and is not bothered by either the loyalty to the sanskriti or to the national integration theme. Many of the advanced countries have adopted the principle of neighborhood schools. Only the students of the nearby areas are allowed to attend these schools. The transport of the students from all over the city is not permitted. The elementary education is the same for all the students of the same area. In return for this the schools are managed so as to have a standard equal to each other. Even if it is felt that the defence personnel should not be at a disadvantage due to frequent transfers, the simple formula is to make the passing of the examination in the regional language optional or not counting for the overall grading but not to forego it altogether. The principle of neighbourhood schools will, in any case, make it incumbent upon the defence personnel to go to the same schools. But there is a fundamental problem in this approach. It will be argued that CBSE is after all affiliating the schools for the class X and XII examinations and has nothing to do with the elementary education. So the big question is how to really put this separation in to practice. In Gujarat, no private schools are allowed in elementary education but there is no restrictions on their entering in higher level of education. This can be followed every where. But will the state governments open such standardized schools which can cater to all the students in the area? And what about the so called residential schools like Scindia, Lovedale etc? It will be revolutionary idea. It has been implemented in France but that was some three centuries ago. In the era when we are giving up socialism in favour of laisez faire, how can this be put into practice? What then is the practical solution? I order to ensure equality of opportunity, the elementary education must be separated from the higher standard of education. the constitutional requirements of teaching through mother tongue and the compulsory education up to the age of fourteen must be ensured. Till this stage there should be no distinction. The only concession to be given to the migratory population is to make the obtaining of minimum marks in the regional language be not insisted upon when he seeks admission in another school in another area. For the higher standard, in any case, there is package of elective subjects which can be chosen from. By this time the foundations in the language would be strong enough to enable following the subject through any medium. The CBSE will have to limit itself to the union territories and such of the states that do not prefer to have their own boards of secondary education. The practice of examination which gives rise to abnormally high percentage which does not contribute learning to knowledge should be given up. This approach will lead to 1. Equality of opportunity to all children 2. Implementation of three language formula 3. Advancement of tribal and minor languages. 4. Better learning atmosphere Given the propensity to cater to only the elite section of the society is the normal action. Witness the Navodya Vidyalaya Sanghatan - NVS - which was set up to run schools so that the students with merit from the rural areas, who could not go to KVS schools for obvious reasons could be taken care of, it is very difficult to envisage that drastic steps will be taken to bring about equality of opportunity . There is no anxiety to upgrade all the schools in the state or the district. Take up a model village - call it Gandhi gram, Swatantra Jayanti gram, Ambedekar gram or by any other name and develop it hoping that some show piece is available.It is true that all villages can not be upgraded to the same level, nor that all colleges could be of the same stature. But the main problem is that of approach and of fulfilling the minimum requirements of an institution before going in in search of excellence. Unfortunately that has not been done. This is the basic malady. And something has to be done about it.

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