Make native language as medium of knowledge

07 Oct 2022 | 06:27am IST

Make native language as medium of knowledge

Lately, googling anything that one does not know about has become a custom. The knowledge which is primarily in English is translated into the native languages ​​by using Google’s own Google Translate translation service. No one feels wrong doing that nor should they. However, enough thought is not given as to why the information is not available in the native tongue in the first place. The general perception is that English is considered as a universal language and one must learn it. In our State, English is used as a medium of instruction from the fifth standard onwards and as a result regional languages ​​have taken a hit.

With the government’s grant, English has penetrated at the primary education level and will speed up the collapse of vernacular languages ​​which are already on decline. It has gone under the radar that English’s influence has only grown due to internal fights between the regional languages. BJP’s mother institution RSS’s Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat highlighted the importance of using regional languages ​​as a medium of instruction while talking at Dussehra celebrations in Nagpur. However, everyone is aware of the situations prevalent in BJP-ruled States.

The reason to point this out is that Google had to close down its translation service in China citing decrease in the number of users. When looked further into this, it came to light that the Chinese government was successful at making information available for its people in Chinese language. China has a standard Chinese language with different dialects changing as per the region, naturally. However, in spite of that, the government of the most populous country has succeeded in bringing world-wide knowledge into their native tongue. The impact was so powerful that even a mega tech giant such as Google had to stop their services.

The new National Education Policy (NEP) was welcomed when it was announced. However, one particular issue became a controversial hot-topic; the medium of instruction. The NEP recommends that till fifth standard and if possible, till eighth standard and beyond the medium of instruction could be in mother tongue/home language/local language/regional language. Some have expressed displeasure over this, many criticized, while a lot of people also welcomed the move. However, this recommendation is only the modified form taken from the previous two NEPs.

The policy agrees upon the fact that a certain terrain may speak a different regional language than the language largely used in that same state. For example, the people based in parts of Northern Karnataka which is closer to Maharashtra may be speaking Marathi while the state’s language is Kannada. Similarly, a children’s mother tongue may differ from the home language (If the mother tongue of both the parents are different than the chances are they may be using a third language to converse with their children). Hence, all the four languages ​​local, regional, mother tongue and the language spoken at home could very well be distinct for some children. Therefore, the policy stresses on encouraging State governments to push for using all the languages ​​spoken in the State in the education sector.

A three-tiered formula was formed after the study regarding children’s capacity to learn languages ​​was conducted by the Dr DK Kasturirangan committee. The committee suggests that these three languages ​​should be taught to children at a young age from 3 to 8 and then develop them from 8 to 11. The committee also suggested that the decision to choose these 3 languages ​​should entirely rest in the hands of parents and the students. Even today, many primary students do not understand the language which is used as a medium of instruction (regardless it being English or any other regional language), which has a severe negative impact on their ability to learn. This creates an inferiority complex within the children which impacts their basic literacy.

The knowledge meant to be imparted should be brought in local and regional languages ​​first. The subjects of Science and Mathematics should be taught in English and local language, both. This experiment has been proven to be successful in European countries where English is not their mother tongue with Germany being the biggest example. In Germany, it was observed that children learn both the languages ​​which help them for the rest of their lives. And for that to happen, local language must be made language of knowledge first.

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