The Centre is unlikely to implement its own National Education Policy (NEP) recommendations regarding the medium of instruction in Kendriya Vidyalayas, which are directly controlled by the Education Ministry, or in schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education.
Since the KVs and CBSE schools cater to the needs of people in transferable jobs, it would not be practical to use students’ mother tongue or regional languages as the medium of instruction, senior officials said.
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Since the NEP was released earlier this week, the fiercest debates have raged around the clause calling for the mother tongue or local language to be used as the medium of instruction “wherever possible” at least until Class 5, but preferably till Class 8 and beyond.
“This will be followed by both public and private schools,” the NEP said.
In an interview with The Hindu on Friday, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank clarified that it would be up to the State governments to decide on how this would be implemented in schools under their jurisdiction.
However, when asked about the Kendriya Vidyalayas, which come under Central jurisdiction, he only said, “The beauty of this policy is flexibility… We will try to take everyone along in the process of making a vibrant India.”
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A senior official in charge of the Kendriya Vidyalayas said this recommendation could not be implemented.
“Ideally, that is a fantastic idea, and academically that is very, very correct. Unfortunately, in our country, that doesn’t happen. The child speaks one language at home and then it comes to school and is totally puzzled and confused when it is suddenly exposed to English,” said the official, adding that the policy had not mandated the use of mother tongue because of the variations that exist across the country.
“For example, in KVs, any school, any one class is like a miniature India. In that one class, you will find people from Jammu and Kashmir to Kanniyakumari. Because we are catering to the needs of Central government employees… they are posted anywhere. So which medium of instruction can we use? That is practically difficult for us. But the policy also says ‘wherever possible’. We can teach as many languages as possible, but using them as the medium of instruction in KVs may not be possible for us.”
A senior official at the CBSE reiterated this view. “Education is in the concurrent list. The CBSE is only an examination body. We have schools all over the country and in 25 foreign countries as well. The CBSE school in Tamil Nadu will have to follow the State government guidelines, based on the common Policy,” said the official. “Most of the CBSE schools are catering to the requirement of people in transferable jobs, so it will not be possible to teach in local languages. That is why the NEP says ‘wherever possible’.” The official added that in private unaided schools, parents’ choice with regard to medium of instruction would prevail.
The Policy also promotes the learning of Sanskrit. “I think teaching Sanskrit to all our children is a wonderful idea. Sanskrit, after all, is the mother language for all our children,” said the official in charge of KVs.
The KVs have been following the three language formula for the last 55 years. English and Hindi are compulsorily taught right from Class 1-12. Sanskrit is mandatorily taught from Class 6-8. In Class 9-10, it is optional to choose between Hindi and Sanskrit. “We are also teaching regional languages to children who are desirous of learning it, provided at least 15 students are available in a class for a particular language. Otherwise, you can’t appoint one teacher for just one student. We provide Malayalam as an option in Kerala KVs, Telugu in Andhra. Also, we have foreign languages, mostly German, a few French, provided from Class 6 onwards, as a fourth option,” said the official.