The preference for English as a medium of instruction at different levels of education until secondary is an enduring and a rising trend, reveals the latest all-India survey conducted by the National Statistical Office (NSO).
Over 50 per cent of pre-primary schoolchildren — nursery, KG — who spoke one of 13 regional languages at home, including Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Punjabi, were enrolled in English medium schools.
However, the share of Hindi-speaking students in English-medium schools at the primary level has dipped from 18.3 per cent in 2014 to 18.2 per cent in 2018.
Editorial | A Jan Andolan for Education
The report, Household Social Consumption on Education in India, released last week mapped 1.13 lakh households during July 2017-June 2018 accounting for 1.52 lakh students.
Nationally, 48 per cent of children attended pre-Primary schools with the medium of instruction in their native languages.
At the Primary level (Class I to V), English was the medium of instruction for 23.2 per cent of students – a rise from 22.3 per cent in January-June 2014 — and for 65 per cent of children, the medium of instruction was the same as their mother tongue.
There is no explanation in the survey why there is a dip in preference for English medium in Hindi-speaking homes but one reason could be economics and affordability.
English-medium schools are essentially in the private sector and, traditionally, in Hindi-speaking states, the per capita expenditure on education is lower than the national average of Rs 8331 for a year: Chhattisgarh (Rs 3,575), Bihar (Rs 4,379), Jharkhand (Rs 4,840), Madhya Pradesh (Rs 5,769), Uttar Pradesh (Rs 6,301) and Rajasthan (Rs 7,835).
At the Upper Primary (Class VI-VIII), the proportion of English-medium students has gone up to 21 per cent in 2017-18 from 19.3 per cent in 2014. Similarly, at Secondary (Class IX-X), the proportion of English-medium students has gone up to 20.9 per cent from 19.3 per cent.
However, it has remained flat at around 29 per cent at Higher Secondary level (Class XI-XII) during the same period.
The report has defined medium of instruction as “language through which subjects other than ‘languages’ (like Hindi, English, etc.) are taught in the school.”
The report, however, adds that it’s not necessarily the language used by teachers to teach/explain the subjects but language of the study material (like books, notes, etc.).
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