Explain order on medium of instruction: SC tells State govt

Explain order on medium of instruction: SC tells State govt

‘Parents send wards to English schools to make them globally competitive’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the choice of medium of instruction in primary schools should at best be left to the parents and should not be enforced by the state as in the present scenario there is a growing desire among people to adopt English in order to make their children globally competitive.

“Nowadays, wherever we go, we find proliferation of schools mostly in English medium. Parents want to send their children to English-medium schools in order to make them compete with the world,” a five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Justice R M Lodha said.

The court made the observation while asking the Karnataka government to explain if its decision to impose Kannada or mother tongue as medium of instruction from class I to IV in all schools would not run contrary to the fundamental rights of minorities.

The court posed a number of queries to Karnataka’s Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar, such as who decided mother tongue of a child and what could be the link between standard of education and medium of instruction, etc. 

The court started hearing a matter relating to Karnataka government’s notification of 1994-95 mandating that medium of instruction from class I to IV would be either in mother tongue or Kannada.

The reference to the Constitution bench was made by a division bench in July last year, saying that the question involved had far-reaching significance on the development of children in the country. Taking up the matter, the bench, also comprising Justices A K Patnaik, Dipak Misra, S J Mukhopadhaya and F M I Kalifulla, said, “There is no doubt that a child learns faster in mother tongue. What the state should do is to provide a platform.

If a Telugu boy is asked to learn something in Kannada, he would certainly lag behind.”Senior advocate Kumar contended that people who have studied in their mother tongue had done far better than others in different spectra of life.

He claimed that the state had all the authority and power to take a decision on the medium of instruction on the basis of Article 350A of the Constitution, which talked about the state making an endeavour to facilitate instruction in mother tongue at the primary level of education. The court, however, shot back, “You must identify and understand the width and scope of Article 350 A.”

Linguistic minority

“Article 350 A at best is an enabling provision. It mandates states to work for linguistic minority. Can it be used to control, curtail or restrain fundamental rights granted to them under Article 29 and 30,” the bench said. The court also wanted to know the source of power of the state government to issue such an order.

During the day-long hearing, the court reminded the senior counsel about the changes in the world and aspiration of all parents to make their child globally competitive. The court is to resume hearing in the matter on Wednesday.

The Karnataka government had issued the order in 1994 mandating that the medium of instruction from class 1 to 4 in all schools recognised by the state government would be either mother tongue or Kannada from the academic year 1994-95.A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi had in July framed several questions which would be decided by the Constitution bench.

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