The Karnataka government’s proposal to have an English-medium section in 1,000 government schools as a pilot project to wean away parents from private schools has provoked protests from Kannada writers and intellectuals, who fear that English will swallow the native language.
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education N Mahesh has said the move is needed as students have moved away from government to private schools even in rural areas. Students in state government schools at present learn English from Class V.
However, across the country, with student numbers in government schools dropping and English seen as the only way forward, states have been introducing English medium.
Incidentally, the medium of instruction in all government schools in J&K is English since 2003, while in Assam, an attempt to convert 20 vernacular-medium government schools to English-medium in 2012-13 was scuttled.
Has started English-medium sections in government schools from this session. Initial plans were to have such sections in 1,886 schools, at the middle, high and senior secondary levels, but only 1,424 schools opted for it. The remaining couldn’t due to reasons such as infrastructure constraints, lack of enough students, failure of the state board to print enough English-medium books, and lack of teachers.
Classes 10, 12 have been kept out for now so as to not “pressure” students appearing for board exams.
Even in the English-medium sections though, only Maths and Science are to be taught in English. Social studies would still be taught in Punjabi. Experts have warned this system could be disastrous.
Prashant Goyal, the Director General of School Education, said they would move gradually. “Students studying English-medium in Classes 9 and 11 this year can opt for English medium next year in boards.”
5,000 government primary schools have become English-medium from this academic session (April 2018). Depending on the demand, the state has said, every block in every district would have a minimum of five and maximum of seven such schools. The government had promised training for teachers who volunteered, but only about 40 per cent have been trained to teach in English medium so far.
Earlier, the Samajwadi Party government had set up two such schools in every district — leading to a significant rise in student enrolment in government schools.
Still, UP’s plans may run into rough weather due to lack of required textbooks, a problem not limited to English-medium books alone. “The insufficient supply is for all the books,” said Lalita Pradeep, Joint Director, Basic Education.
It has introduced English-medium Class 1 sections in 418 government schools from the current session (2018-19). This would be extended to higher classes later. Each such English-medium Class 1 would have no more than 30 students, and they would continue to be taught in English as they are promoted to the next grade.
The Haryana Education Department has also announced an ‘I am not afraid of English’ initiative aimed at capacity building of teachers to enable them to help students read, write and speak in English from Class 1.
In 2017, the government announced introduction of Science books in English for Class 3 students across all the 15,000 government primary schools from this academic year. In the coming years there will be English textbooks for Science subjects up to Class 12, Virendra Rawat, Additional Director, Elementary Education, said.
“The Education Department plans to introduce English across all subjects, but that might take time… We initiated English education after noting that all parents wanted English-medium,” Rawat said.
Telangana introduced English medium in a limited number of government primary schools this academic year. Deputy Chief Minister (Education) Kadiam Srihari said that 15,000 more students had got enrolled in Class 1 in its 5,000 schools following the measure. “The increase is due to the introduction of English medium from Classes 1 to 5,” he said, adding that they were introducing English “without compromising on Telugu”.
Starting this academic session, the state has introduced English medium in 90 per cent of its 9,356 elementary schools. According to Education Department officials, there has been a 20 per cent increase in enrolment in government schools after this. “The response will be even better next academic year because of the good feedback,” Education Minister G Srinivasa Rao said.
Three years ago, one English-medium primary school was started in every block of the state. Bhopal District Education Officer Dharmendra Sharma said the schools were started because of the demand for them. However, it’s only now that the government has decided to recruit permanent teachers.
The government has started five English-medium schools called Schools of Excellence from this year. The admission to the senior sections is through an admission test. “The government wants to send out the message that the schools can compete with private schools at a negligible fee. We received thousands of applications for a few hundred seats,” said a senior official.
Besides Schools of Excellence, all Delhi government schools have one section that is English medium, introduced over a decade ago.
This academic session, the state is introducing one English-medium government school in each of its 146 blocks. The plan was to earlier have two per block. Officials admitted that the reason was to equip students for jobs and to prevent outflux to private schools. “The results will only be clear in the next few years,” a district collector posted in the Bastar range said.
Has 134 Swami Vivekananda Government Model Schools, English-medium and affiliated to the CBSE, started in 2014-2015. Tulika Saini, Deputy Commissioner, Rajasthan Council for Secondary Education, Jaipur, said there was a huge demand for the schools.
More than 21,000 students have shifted from private schools to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-run schools in the past five years, a change the board believes was prompted by its decision to introduce 24 English-medium schools in 2013. However, the overall enrolment in AMC schools has still seen a fall. In June, the Vadodara district authorities started eight English-medium government schools as a pilot project. The Surat Municipal Corporation runs nine English-medium schools since 2010.
Does not have English-medium government schools. In recent years, hit by dwindling enrolment, some government and government-aided private schools of state syllabus are offering English medium for a division/batch in class. This, coupled with infrastructure improvement, has helped improve enrolment figures in state syllabus schools. In 2017-18, 1.40 lakh students joined Classes 1 to 9. This has risen to 1.80 lakh this year.
The state has no government-run zila parishad schools where the medium of education is English. However, there are “semi-English-medium schools”, where Science and Maths are taught in English. Plus there are government-funded schools which are English-medium.
Still, a large section of the total student population in the state now studies in English-medium schools. In 2016-17, of the 12.82 lakh students who took the Class 10 exam from the state board, 8.62 lakh were from English-medium.
In 2012-2013, the state introduced English-medium in government schools citing primarily two reasons — the huge demand from ‘weaker sections’, and to improve the declining strength in government schools. However, top officers in the state Education Department say the move has not had a major impact on academics or survival of schools as the government did not appoint qualified teachers to handle English-medium sections.