CHENNAI: Tamil language activists might be up in arms against the Sanskrit Week, but go to schools and there is no dearth of takers for the ancient language.
While some quote the relatively easy syllabus as the key factor driving the students to the language, others point out that there is an increasing interest in the language among the students.
“When we started our school in 1953, there was hardly any other school in the city that offered Sanskrit at the school level. Today that is not the case. Every other school has introduced Sanskrit to cater to the increasing demand. The competition has also gone up. Our school, which has always had the topper in Sanskrit, missed it this year to other schools. This only shows how well the students are in the language,” said N Uma, principal of the Sri Ahobila Matt Oriental Higher Secondary School.
She pointed out that even their Tamil medium students chose Sanskrit as their language in the Class 10 examinations.
While it was the Kendriya Vidyalayas which initiated the Sanskrit languages in their schools, many private CBSE students soon followed suit. Today, an increasing number of State syllabus schools too provide the option.
But many point out that the one of the key reasons for the increasing demand is the prospect of getting better marks.
“Most students opt for Sanskrit to score full marks. In other languages, scoring a centum is difficult, but that is not the case with Sanskrit. Moreover, students also have an opportunity in the State syllabus to answer their essays and other big questions in English. This again is an added advantage,” said G Pandian, principal of Sir Shiva Swami Kalalaya Senior Secondary School.
Principals of matriculation schools point out that the demand for Sanskrit in Class 11 and 12 is because of CBSE students opt for matriculation after Class 10.
“Many of these students are already acquainted with Sanskrit from their CBSE syllabus. So, in Class 11 and 12, it is very easy for them, ” he added.
But private CBSE schools deny this argument.
“The days when students took to Sanskrit only to score centums are now over in the CBSE system. After the communicative approach was introduced by the board, students have to master in reading, writing and speaking the language. The centums have come down drastically after this was introduced. But in spite of this, there has not been any decline in the number of students taking to Sanskrit. In fact in the last three years, we have seen an increase in the number of Sanskrit students every year,” said the principal of the Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram.
The shift in the quality of students is indicated by Sanskrit competitions which have now moved away from chanting verses to essays and poem writing.
Sanskrit, meanwhile, has also emerged as an alternative to Hindi with schools noting a decline in takers for Hindi.