RTE might sound death knell for Kannada medium schools
Student strength dropping drastically in many institutions
Following steep fall in admissions, headmasters and teachers of Kannada medium schools have been forced to go on a door-to-door campaign to enrol students for their schools.
S R Prakash, headmaster, Gandhi Smaraka Kannada Higher Primary School (GSKHPS), Kavalbyrasandra, said: “There is a huge change in people’s attitude and, even a daily wage labourer now wants his kid to study in an English school. The introduction of RTE Act has further decreased the strength as 25 per cent of seats in private English medium schools are reserved for those from economically weaker classes. When the government pays the fees of a poor student admitted to a good English school, why will parents send their wards to our school?”
Devaraj, a teacher at GSKHPS who regularly goes out to find students for his school, said: “To convince parents to send their kids to our school, we have to reach their places as early as 7 am. Else, they would have left for work. There are instances where we wake them up, wait till they get ready and talk to us.”
Besides, we have to lure parents to send their children to our school by highlighting various facilities like midday meals, free uniform and text books.
But even then, students are hardly joining Kannada medium schools, Devaraj said.
Aanjanappa, parent of Anjaneya who studies in the school, says that he sends his son to Kannada school as he can’t afford the expenses of an English medium school in the City.
“Teachers have to go in search of students. It’s a matter of survival for us,” said C Shivarame Gowda, a teacher at Jnaneshwari Kannada Higher Primary School, Kaval Byrasandra. There were 600 students in his school seven years ago, but now the number has dropped to 250. Every year, 10 days before the start of the academic year, a team of five teachers from the school is assigned the task of finding students for admission.
There are times when teachers are ill-treated and rebuked by parents, he added. A N Kambalappa, headmaster, Government Model Higher Primary School (GMHPS), Ganganagar, said: “How can one expect students to a Kannada medium school when there are seven to eight English medium schools in a locality? It would be a miracle if Kannada medium schools survive for another five years.”
The government should frame rules which make Kannada medium education mandatory from Class I to Class VII. Also, government should stop granting permission to private schools, Kambalappa said.
“Parents’ mindset and government’s failure to enforce appropriate laws are the main reasons for the present predicament of Kannada schools,” said Siddappa, headmaster, GMHPS, M R Palya.
It’s English craze: Top official
On the condition of Kannada medium schools in the state, Commissioner of Public Instruction S Umashankar said: “People are bowled over by the English craze, but they do not realise that if students do not receive good teaching in private schools, they neither learn Kannada nor English.” He opined that if a student is taught in his mother tongue, the learning process becomes easy and he or she can achieve allround development. English is being taught as a language from first standard to make students more competitive, he added.