Govt schools pander to English craze

Govt schools pander to English craze

Education dept to start English medium sections

Govt schools pander to English craze

The recent decision of the State education department to carve out English medium sections in the existing higher primary schools seems to be in line with the demand- driven and need- based education  that parents aspire for their children.

Perhaps the craving for English medium learning explains the declining trend of enrolment from 6th to 8th  standards in Kannada medium government schools as opposed to the aided and unaided English medium schools where the enrolments have shown an upward spiral.

It may become unpalatable for pro-Kannada organizations and Kannada litterateurs to digest the hard fact that even in rural areas and tier II and tier III cities across the State, the demand for education in English medium is on the rise. There has been an overall shift of four per cent from Kannada to English medium private schools  from 2006-07 to 2009-10 at an average rate of 1.33 per cent per year.

In terms of numbers, the decrease is 6.28 lakh students during this period of which 2.02 lakh may be due to demographic changes. In case of the rest 4.26 lakh students, there may be a lateral shift to the private sector schools. While the government schools have consistently lost on enrolment, the aided and unaided schools have recorded a positive growth of 0.57 lakh to 3.6 lakh .

The steady decline in demand for Kannada medium education from 6th standard onwards is portrayed in the recent analytical report – Education in Karnataka 2009-10 brought out by the Department of Public Instruction. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Visheveswara Hegde Kageri says that one of the compelling reasons to open English medium sections in the government schools at higher primary level – 6th to 8th – is to arrest the growing trend of students shifting to private schools to get English medium education by paying higher fees. Also, it helps to check migration from rural to urban areas. There is very high demand for English medium education in urban slums, he points out.

The department is providing English medium education in high schools – 8th to 10th standard- for many years now. Similar arrangements are being made from 6th to 8th standards in select schools of 758 hoblis. The government is firm on going ahead with this plan.

“English medium sections are not being thrust on Schools Development & Monitoring Committees (SDMCs), which are managing schools. We are giving an open challenge to the committees to cater to the needs of students. Adopting English medium education in higher primary and high school is not in violation of the language policy of the State. The government, as per the policy, is committed to provide education in mother-tongue of students up to 5th standard. Our schools and teaching staff are far better than private ones in many district and taluk head quarters,” says the minister.

However, the moot question is whether these schools are equipped to impart teaching in English in terms of human resources. The ministers says that 10,000-15,000 teachers had been trained by the British Council, Premji Foundation and Regional Institute of English and Bangalore University to hone their language and teaching skills.

The  report says that enrolments at 1st standard have marginally declined overall in all schools except private unaided schools. The overall decline may be a phenomenon of population decline. In addition, enrolments have decreased at all stages in schools run by the department.

But, in private schools the enrolments have marginally gone up in 6th to 8th standard. However, the lateral shift is insignificant compared to the trend across the country. Private players prefer to open high schools in urban areas but not lower primary schools in villages because of the State government’s language policy which mandates teaching of Kannada medium up to fifth standard.

The government is running 23,442 lower primary Kannada schools in the State while there are hardly 584 English medium schools run by private players. The trend dramatically shifts when it comes to high schools with the department running 9,796 high schools while there are 3,614 English medium aided and unaided schools.

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