Higher Education Minister P Palaniappan said that rising enrolment in government schools proved that the State government’s decision to introduce English medium sections was correct and relevant. The statement came in the face of a plea by CPM’s Chidambaram MLA K Balakrishnan, to the State government to ensure that primary education remained exclusively in Tamil.
Speaking during the discussion on the Supplementary Estimates and addition demand for grants, Balakrishnan said parents across the State were admitting their children in private schools because they wanted their children to be educated in the English medium. This, he said, would lead to the decay of the Tamil language. “That is why I urge the State government to reverse its decision to open English medium sections in government schools and keep primary education solely in Tamil,” he said.
Palaniappan responded to this by saying that proficiency in English had become critical to find fruitful employment and that English was the lingua franca of most industries. “English medium education makes it easier for students to go for higher education. That is why parents are willing to go to any extent to put their children in private schools, where they can be educated in the English medium,” said Palaniappan.
“The government has deemed it important to fight the falling enrolment due to this factor by starting English medium sections in government schools, so the parents can give their children an English medium education free of cost,” he explained. “I would like to inform the House that enrolment in government schools has risen by 1.21 lakh as a result of the English medium sections,” he said.
The State government had announced during the Budget Session of the Assembly earlier this year that it would start English medium sections in all of its schools. It had started two of the sections in 320 of its schools in 2012-13, and had seen 25,000 students enrol in them.