Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who has come under fire for converting government schools in the state English medium, on Thursday hit back at his critics, saying that education in English is a must to prepare students to face a technology-driven world.
Last week, the Jagan government issued an order to convert all Telugu- and Urdu-medium schools into English-medium in Class I to VI starting the next academic year, a move that has been roundly criticised by opposition leaders TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan, along with Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu.
On Thursday, speaking at PVR High School in Ongole, Jagan said, “This was a conscious decision taken after due consideration and visualising what our future generation requires in the new age of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, where driver-less cars would be coming into vogue.”
He cited the example of Andhra Education Minister Adimoolapu Suresh, who studied in a Telugu-medium institute for a few years but later shifted to English-medium and went on to become an IRS officer. He also talked of top bureaucrats Rajasekhar Reddy and K Dhanunjaya Reddy, both IAS officers who shifted to English medium. “They opted for English medium in search of a better future and made their mark,” Jagan said.
“On the introduction of English medium from Classes I to VI, there are many detractors and those in high places have been making comments and they should realise that there is no place for hypocrisy in a democracy. They have to introspect if they are sending their children and grandchildren to government schools or to English medium schools. This shows that they do not practice what they preach. Weaker sections and underprivileged should not be deprived of opportunities and we are providing them with such programmes. The 2011 census says that our state illiteracy rate is 33 per cent and to uplift the marginalised sections, we have to take bold decisions like switching over to English medium. There would be some difficulties and challenges but have to face and we will overcome,” Jagan said.
“We should not be found wanting and feel guilty if the next generation cannot be prepared to face the highly dynamic and technology-driven world. Change will come only if the right decision is taken at the right time as we are competing with a job market that would be there five, ten or fifteen years from now. There has been criticism and detractors have been running a campaign targeting me, but we will carry our mission and the future of next-generation is on top priority,” he said.
He said that during his padayatra while campaigning for the Assembly polls, he had heard families complaining about the lack of a level playing field as their children are left behind due to the non-availability of avenues. “We will be introducing the ‘Amma Vodi’ scheme on January 9, where we will incentivise mothers to send their children to school and encourage them to continue till the Intermediate-level. Fees reimbursement will be taken up in a big way in all degree and professional colleges and there will be one-year apprenticeship for the youth to gear up for the jobs. Apart from this, a Skill Development University which will be set up and under its umbrella, all 25 Skill Development Centres will function to have an interface with education and industry,” he said.