New Education Policy moots local language as mother tongue as language of instruction “wherever possible”

New Education Policy 2020: The New Education Policy approved by the Centre on Wednesday lays much focus on mother tongue as the medium of instruction even as it sticks to the ‘three language formula’ while emphasizing that no language would be imposed on anyone.

The policy document states that since children learn and grasp non-trivial concepts more quickly in their home language, which is often the mother tongue, it should be preferably the medium of instruction.

“Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language, mother tongue, local language or the regional language. Thereafter, the home or local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. This will be followed by both public and private schools,” the policy states.

However, the emphasis on local language or mother tongue also leads to a question mark on the existence of thousands of English-medium schools that are present across the country. Many of the schools impart high-quality education and are leading institution in their particular regions.

When contacted, a senior HRD ministry official said the policy does not aim to impose any language at anyone. 

“Even with regard to instruction in mother tongue, the policy document emphasizes – wherever possible. There is no question of imposing anything. Moreover, it is for the state governments to take decisions in this regard according to requirements of the students,” the official said.

Language is a sensitive area as far as the education policy is concerned.

There had been a huge row over the alleged imposition of Hindi earlier when the draft policy was submitted by the panel headed by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan to the HRD ministry.

There were apprehensions, especially in non-Hindi speaking states that the three language formula propagated in the policy would lead to Hindi being forced on non-speakers. Incidentally, it also was the first day of HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in office.

The HRD ministry had then doused the anger emphasizing that no language would be thrust on anyone.

The ministry in a statement again emphasized that no language would be thrust even as it focused on multi-lingualism.

The policy recommends high-quality textbooks, including in science, will be made available in home languages and mother tongue. Teachers will be encouraged to use a bilingual approach, including bilingual teaching-learning materials, with those students whose home language may be different from the

As research clearly shows that children pick up languages extremely quickly between the ages of 2 and 8 and that multilingualism has great cognitive benefits to young students, children will be exposed to different languages early on (but with a particular emphasis on the mother tongue), starting from the Foundational Stage onwards.

There will be a major effort from both the Central and State governments to invest in large numbers of language teachers in all regional languages around the country, and, in particular,for all languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

States, especially States from different regions of India, may enter into bilateral agreements to hire teachers in large numbers from each other, to satisfy the three-language formula in their respective states, and also to encourage the study of Indian languages across the country.

“ The three-language formula will continue to be implemented while keeping in mind the Constitutional provisions, aspirations of the people, regions, and the Union, and the need to promote multilingualism as well as promote national unity.However, there will be a greater flexibility in the three-language formula, and no language will be imposed on any State. The three languages learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of course the students themselves, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India,” the policy states.

It also lays emphasis on Sanskrit, which it calls an important modern language mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, possesses a classical literature that is greater in volume than that of Latin and Greek put together. Sanskrit will thus be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an important enriching option for students, including as an option in the three-language formula.

The policy also provides for teaching other classical including classical Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia. In addition to these classical languages Pali, Persian, and Prakrit; and their works of literature too must be preserved for their richness and for the pleasure and enrichment of posterity, the document states.

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