Focus on education quality, not language, say experts
Chennai, June 2 (IANS) The government should first get its basics right on education and then focus on peripheral issues like compulsorily teaching Hindi to school students in non-Hindi speaking states, say experts on the anti-Hindi row that has erupted in Tamil Nadu.
On Saturday, Opposition parties in the southern state reacted with anger against the three-language formula suggested for school students in the draft National Education Policy that was presented by the K.Kasturirangan Committee to the Central government recently.
Dividing states into Hindi speaking and non-Hindi speaking, the Kasturirangan Committee recommended teaching of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states in addition to the regional language and English.
In the case of Hindi speaking states, the Committee suggested teaching of Hindi, English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India.
"What is modern Indian language? Does this mean Tamil being a classical language would not be taught in schools in Hindi speaking states? Such terms are used to camouflage imposition of Hindi," E.Balagurusamy, former member Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and former vice chancellor Anna University told IANS.
"I am not opposing Hindi. But there should be an option for the students to choose an Indian language to learn and not just Hindi," remarked Balagurusamy, who is also a member of the High Level Committee on School Education set up by the Tamil Nadu government.
"Let the central government say all states in North, East and Western regions should teach one South Indian language to their students, then we would also say Hindi could be taught," Balagurusamy said.
He said the government and its policies should focus on improving the quality of education and not on what language a student should study.
According to him, the draft National Education Policy committee should have been headed by an academician and not by Kasturirangan, who was the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
"Since the nation got independence, there has been seven education policies but none of them were implemented. Further controversial statements made in the policy and the opposition to it would dilute the implementation," Balagurusamy remarked.
"A child can learn any number of languages but there should be no imposition. What is the point of learning a language which not in use in the surrounding in which the child is living," Prince Gajendra Babu, General Secretary, State Platform for Common School System – Tamil Nadu told IANS.
According to him, the government must first ensure equitable access and funds to education for all in the country.
The Centre on Saturday clarified that the three-language system was just a recommendation and not a policy.
Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Prakash Javadekar also told the media: "The committee on new education policy has submitted its report. The government has not taken any decision on it."
Javadekar, who was Human Resource Development Minister in the previous NDA government, said all Indian languages will be promoted.
Tamil Nadu witnessed serious anti-Hindi agitations across the state in 1965, resulting in several deaths in police firing on the protesters.
The agitation spearheaded by the DMK was one of the major reasons for the Dravidian party coming to power in the state in 1967, displacing the Congress.
Even during the 1930s — prior to Indian independence in 1947 — the erstwhile Madras Presidency witnessed agitations when the then Congress government wanted Hindi to be introduced as a subject in schools.