BENGALURU: Schools and educationists appear to be divided on the state government’s move to make Kannada the mandatory medium of instruction in primary education (classes 1 to 5).
On Thursday, the Cabinet decided to amend the Karnataka Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2012, to make ‘mother tongue Kannada’ compulsory medium of instruction.
Shashikumar D, general secretary of the Karnataka Private Schools Association, called it an unscientific move as every school has a diverse mix of students with various mother tongues. It is impractical to ask the schools to start imparting education in Kannada, he said.
Jerry George Mathew, principal of Clarence High School, too, is not in favour of the state’s decision. “It is something that we do not welcome because it goes against the order of the Supreme Court. The court has maintained that parents are the ones who decide the suitable medium of instruction for the children,” he said.
Nigar Sultana, principal of Cambridge Public School in Yelahanka New Town, agrees. “The option of choosing the kind of education for the children should be left to the parents. This is their fundamental right,” she said.
A S Seetharamu, retired professor, ISRO Satellite Centre, said while measures need to be taken to protect Kannada, the Constitution should not be messed with. “We should promote Kannada but it is not right for the Assembly to act against the Constitution and the apex court. Change has to be effected at the national level.”
‘A Step Forward’ Some educationists, however, called it a welcome move. Niranjan Aaradhya said, “It is a positive step to ensure that children learn the value of Kannada. This decision is based on research. Imparting education in the mother tongue can nurture the potential of the children and spark their creativity.”
But he was quick to add that at the same time, English should not be ignored. “English is important. So if the government can take parallel measures to teach English, it can be a huge boost to public schools.”
M S Thimmappa, former vice-chancellor of Bangalore University, said Kannada and English should be taught simultaneously. “While teaching in Kannada can help students better understand the culture and traditions of the state, will Kannada alone help them secure a successful career?” he asked. “We live in a world where English is the main language of communication. If the government is interested in the students’ welfare, it should stop political gimmicks and make provisions to teach English too.”
Many schools said they would take legal recourse, if required, against the move. “This amounts to contempt of the Supreme Court. We will be forced to protest and urge the government to take back its decision,” Shashikumar told Express.