Siddaramaiah flags CM's English schools plan

Siddaramaiah flags CM's English schools plan

Another divide?

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday strongly opposed Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s ambitious move to offer English education in 1,000 government schools, signalling yet another divide between him and the JD(S)-led coalition on governance issues.

“Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has said that 1,000 English-medium schools will be started in the state from the next academic year. I will discuss this with him,” Siddaramaiah tweeted. “We must have clarity on learning Kannada as a language and Kannada as a medium of education. Kannada was the medium in which I studied till high school. Am I stupid? Kannada should remain the supreme language in Karnataka,” he said.

Before tweeting this, Siddaramaiah spoke on similar lines at a Kannada Pustaka Pradhikara event in Badami. Siddaramaiah’s opposition was his reaction to Kannada Development Authority chairperson S G Siddaramaiah’s criticism of the government on the issue.

Kumaraswamy’s plan to introduce English education in government schools goes against his coalition partner Congress’ stand.

The previous Siddaramaiah-led regime made Kannada learning compulsory through a law after Karnataka lost a two-decades-old legal battle in the Supreme Court on making Kannada the medium of instruction. Siddaramaiah had introduced English in government schools, but only as a subject. It was in his July 5 budget that Kumaraswamy announced starting English education in 1,000 government schools.

Siddaramaiah was against Kumaraswamy even announcing a fresh budget. After the budget, Siddaramaiah publicly opposed Kumaraswamy’s move to hike fuel prices and cut supply of rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme from 7 kg to 5 kg.

A host of Kannada writers and intellectuals, including Jnanpith awardee Chandrashekhar Kambar, critic Chandrashekhar Patil (Champa), Dalit poet Siddalingaiah, Kannada Sahitya Parishat president Manu Baligar, scholar M Chidananda Murthy and freedom fighter H S Doreswamy have opposed Kumaraswamy’s move. They argue that offering English was an “anti-Kannada” move that could “kill Kannada in elementary education”.

Kumaraswamy, however, has repeatedly justified the move saying English would encourage parents to send their children to government schools, thereby improving enrolment.