Kannada must; Govt orders shut down of 800 Schools

Report on CNN-IBN.
TOI report.
Over 800 schools in Karnataka have been asked to shut down because they use English as their medium of instruction and not Kannada/mother tongue of the child. And nearly 600 schools in and around Bangalore have been derecognised for violating this policy. While the Government might be acting as per the rule of the law, they are violating the spirit in which the law was written. The idea was the impart education and not stop the child from attending schools. The way in which the administration is currently trying to implement the policy, you will force the child to sit in the Kannada class, but there won’t be any learning. You just cannot force someone to use a language.
Coming back to this issue on hand, this sort of an adhoc move reflects the apathy with which the administration functions. If you had to take this sort of a radical step to force schools to follow the order then the administration could have done it 12 years earlier. The schools would have surely had some notice on what was coming as inspections were carried out earlier to find out what was the medium of instruction. But, a warning with a deadline, by which schools would have to demonstrate that they have the necessary infrastructure to teach in Kannada/other languages would have atleast made the schools and parents sit up and take notice. The government actually has the Apex court’s orders on its side as far as the education policy goes.
A 1994 government order makes it compulsory for all the schools recognized by the government and started after 1994 to teach Kannada from the primary level irrespective of the mother tongue of the child. This was after the Gokak movement and the government issued the order that from primary level onwards, Kannada will be made compulsory. The move was to make Kannada more popular and also to ensure that every school who studies in Karnataka gets to know about the Kannada literature, although it might be a miniscule portion. And a couple of them would actually study the language and further its progress. However, the way in which this has been done would only make the resolve of the schools more stronger to violate the policy or accept the policy with changes made. You just don’t close down or derecognize schools when there are so many careers at stake. It might not take the government long to revoke the order after forcing the schools to agree to the order, but it will leave an everlasting bad taste among the children about the government. This is the worst PR exercise which could have been carried out by the Karnataka government on its Kannada promotion. First and foremost the affected community is the Children of the state and these are the same people on whom you are dependent to shape your tomorrow. The impression left on these kids by the government is surely bad for the language and the administration. The government has refused to comment and the education department is also silent on the whole affair.
Ok, now for some dose on the whole language issue as such:
According to Article 350 A of the Indian Constitution:
Article 350A Facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at primary stage

It shall be the endeavour of every State and of every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups and the President may issue such directions to any State as he considers necessary or proper for securing the provision of such facilities.

which means that every child is entitled to education in its mother tongue. I am no constitutional expert, but I feel that the action that has been taken by the government is fully within the law, but the order which was issued to make Kannada compulsory would be deemed un-constitutional. This order by the Karnataka government has been challenged by
the linguistic minorities and cases are still pending before the
Karnataka High Court. The government could have waited for these decisions before making the move to punish the schools. Also, schools would have to impart education in the regional languages as English cannot be deemed to be the mother tongue of any child in this country. 
Article on the Karnataka Government’s Education Policy: Read the section on ‘Medium of Instruction’. It is a slightly long article but is a good read if you want to know about the evolution of the policy.

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5 Responses

  1. It is stupid to use the excuse that a child is more comfortable learning through its mother tongue, however a child is more capable of learning more languages at an early age.Anyway a child always picks up its native language from home there is no need to learn it from school as well . We as Indians have an edge over the west considering the fact that we are multilingual, an indian is fluent in 3 or 4 languages.
    It would be a wise decision to make english the mandatory medium of instruction right from kindergarten and if the linguistic fanatics want they can make the state language a mandatory subject of study, it can be a subject just like history or geography where people can learn about its heritage.

  2. The problem is not to make the child learn in the mother tongue, but to ensure that such an option is available. The government order on making Kannada the medium of instruction will fall short.

  3. […] The point of contention behind closing the schools is apprently a rule dated 1994 that mandates that “children attending government schools must be taught only in Kannada till their primary education, thats class I through IV”.  These schools were supposed to impart education in Kannada, but ended up as English medium schools. This move, was ostensibly to promote Kannada.  Whether it will promote Kannada or promote private schools offering English medium education or further push government schools into obscurity is anybodys guess. The schools may have violated a policy, but in spirit, they were providing education and making English language education easily accessible to many kids. The duplicity of politicians who make retrogressive rules like these is well known, as seen in the above piece. Policies like these only serve to make it difficult for relatively poor locals (since those who can afford the fees will send their kids to English language schools) to get jobs in an English intensive industry (IT/ITES/BPO).  The Karnataka government will realise that promotion of a language does not happen through coercion in education or by banning (tried for a few weeks in 2004) movies made in other languages. […]

  4. What exactly was happening in last 12 years. Suddenly a minister wakes up and passes a order.

    What will happen to almost 3 lakh students !

  5. That is exactly the problem and the other question to be answered is what to do with the officials who were responsible for allowing this violation to continue.

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