The state-wide evaluation exercise Gunotsav conducted up to middle school has revealed that most students were not even aware of basics in their mother tongue Gujarati. Taking a note of this the evaluation done before Diwali this academic year which comprised self assessment of Classes I-V and the first centralised evaluation through OMR sheets from Class VI-VIII the state government has decided to put special emphasis on Gujarati,which is the medium of instruction not only in government schools but a majority of the private schools as well.
While,all students currently in Class IX in government schools across Gujarat,have to take mandatory Gujarati lessons for a minimum of two months,they will also have to spend extra hours on the language.
One of the major factors that came out during students evaluation was that their lack of understanding of Gujarati language impaired their understanding of Science,Social Studies and even Mathematics. Teachers gave similar feedback during meetings and discussions. These formed the basis of corrective measures for Gujarati language, a senior official of the education department said.
Some of the measures being adopted are replacing the standard question-answer format with open ended questions; prominence of If…. questions; separate exercises for teachers on local dialect,special study material prepared using the local dialect,compulsory language training for teachers in different regions with different dialect; more stress on speaking than writing ; more use of local folk songs and bal geet in schools.
Language experts working with the education department believe that influence of English and the local dialect are some of the problem areas in Gujarat. For instance,a teacher from Mehsana would find it difficult to teach in a school in Kutch because of the dialectic nuances.
The problem is the mother tongue or the local dialect which varies from region to region. The language with tribal dialect like Kutchi,Dangi,Rathwa and Bhili would be different from the standard language. Keeping this in mind,attempts are being made to bring students out of local dialect into standard language from Class I-V, said Yahya Sapatwala,a Gujarati lecturer at District Institute of Education and Training (DIET),Vadodara,and one of the team members of language experts that frame curriculum at Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT),Gandhinagar.
Under this system,teachers have been trained to instruct in a 25 per cent standard language and 75 per cent local dialect medium,in Class I. This ratio is to be increased to 100 per cent standard language by Class V. Also,teachers are provided with key words used in the local dialect and are encouraged to use them in the classroom than the standard language.
Sapatwala says,Also,in cities,Gujarati language has witnessed more influence of English that further increases the difference in local dialect and standard language.
A GCERT expert Haresh Chaudhary says,As language depends a lot on pronunciation which has changed Gujarati over the years,its effects are witnessed in schools. This is the reason why the latest curriculum lays more stress on speaking than writing.
Under the new system of teaching Gujarati language using interactive mode and activity based learning an experiment was also carried out in a government school in Vadodara. During the hour long experiment,not only the students found the lesson more interesting but also the results indicated better understanding, Chaudhary added.