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Language row: Government showing unnecessary haste in, say experts

Education NewsNew ministry mandarins had studied the existing MoU and found gaps. It was loaded in Germany’s favour. As a result of training Sanskrit teachers in German, the number of Sanskrit teachers was dwindling.

When KVS commissioner Avinash Dikshit insisted there was nothing wrong with the MoU and had the KVS board’s approval, ministry officials said the board wasn’t bigger than Parliament or national interest. A renegotiating of the MoU, as suggested by some, was ruled down. The Germans returned empty handed.

If this wasn’t enough, HRD asked KVS to place the matter before its board and align it with the three-language formula, as envisaged in the national education policy and national curriculum framework.

KVS decided to discontinue German as an option to Sanskrit immediately. More than 65,000 KVS children will now have to take a new Indian language and be appraised on that in the remaining academic session. It’s another matter that KVS says they don’t have enough Sanskrit teachers, let alone other language teachers.

Germans have a different story. They claim that in July when they met Smriti Irani she was open to teaching German in BEd courses, so there are enough teachers. A memorandum of intent was signed by her predecessor M M Pallam Raju in 2013. By September the script had gone awry. A fresh German proposal of teaching German from Classes IX to XII is now under consideration.

Many in HRD concede that the episode could’ve been handled deftly. Some say German should have been allowed, at least in the ongoing session. On Friday, after SC pulled up the government for showing unnecessary haste, many officials said the option of continuing with German for the rest of the session was given but it was rejected at the higher level.

Officials say the ministry didn’t foresee the larger problem the decision might create if extended to CBSE-affiliated private schools. CBSE denies this; the fear among schools isn’t unreasonable.

“With this decision we’ve created two sets of children, a distinction we could’ve done without in this age of globalization. Are we so insecure,” a Delhi school principal asks. “A study should be conducted on why children don’t want Sanskrit or other Indian languages as third language. The HRD decision won’t benefit Indian languages.” The language policy, she says, can’t be implemented through coercion.

Asha Sarangi of JNU sees it differently. “The language issue always crops up when BJP is in government. They believe language is organically linked to the idea of nation.” Sarangi, author of a book on language and politics, says: “German or any foreign language came because of a globalized world order. English no longer has hegemony over knowledge.” She thinks the decision is rhetorical but has deep ideological roots.

Source: The Economic Times

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