The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday set aside two government orders that were issued to convert classes 1 to 6 in all schools to English medium of instruction from the 2020-21 academic year, saying they were against the National Policy on Education Act, 1968.
The High Court asserted that the medium of instruction in schools, particularly up to class 8, must be in the mother tongue as unequivocally recognised by the National Policy on Education Act, 1968, and various other reports.
“The effect of the National Policy on Education, 1968 and other reports cannot be whittled down by way of issuing G.O. by the state government, contrary to the spirit of the RTE Act and also to the provisions of the Constitution and also the judgments of the Supreme Court.
Therefore, the decision of the government, converting the medium of instruction from Telugu to English from Standards I to VI or I to VIII as the case may be, en-bloc, is against the National Policy on Education Act, 1968 and various other reports, a division bench of the High Court, headed by Chief Justice J K Maheshwari observed in the 92-page verdict.
The verdict was delivered on two writ petitions filed separately by a lawyer Guntupalli Srinivas and BJP leader Sudheesh Rambhatla, challenging the YSR Congress governments decision to convert the medium of instruction in schools from Telugu to English.
The government issued the G.O on November 5,2019, stating thatall government and mandal and zilla parishad schools will be converted to English medium for classes 1 to 8 from the 2020-21 academic year, and classes 9 and 10 from 2021-22.
Amending that order, another GO was issued on November 20 stating that schools under all managements will be converted to English medium for classes 1 to 6 from 2020-21, with Telugu\Urdu as a compulsory subject.
The state government also sought to give legal cover to its decision by trying to enact a legislation in the extended winter session of the Legislature in January.
But the Legislative Council, where the main opposition TDP is in a majority, blocked the Bill, suggesting that a fresh one be drafted making English medium optional along with Telugu medium.
After lengthy arguments over the months, the High Court last month reserved the verdict on the writ petitions.
“However, considering the era of pre-independence to post-independence, the implementation of medium of instruction in Telugu is going on for the last more than 50 years, recognising Telugu as medium of instruction/mother tongue at the primary stage.
Abrupt change, without any basis by a G.O. issued by the state government, how far is it justified is a matter of concern to the educationists, the academic authority and the competent authority under the provisions of the RTE Act and the 1982 Act.
But in the opinion of the Court, without having any basis, issuance of the G.O., by the state government reflects absolute non-application of mind, the division bench said.
“Looking into the history and as per the recommendations in the report of the States Reorganisation Commission, 1955 and the National Policy on Education Act, 1968 and various other reports, it is unequivocally recognised that medium of instruction in the schools, particularly up to standards I to VIII must be in mother tongue, it pointed out.
The bench also observed that the inescapable conclusion which could be arrived at was that G.O 85 of November 20 was against the spirit of the various Constitutional provisions and the amendment so proposed by the state government was repugnant and, without its assent, it cannot confer any power to the state government to issue the said GO.
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