Neither size nor tongue

Sam Pitroda - chairman of the National Knowledge Commission - keynoting a major seminar on Higher Education Policies in India, China and the United States organized by the Bridging Nations Foundation in Washington, DC, argued that India's higher education system is under deep trouble. He observed that a "one size fits all" system of education won't work for India because "it's so diverse".

Nor will one tongue fit all, Mr. Pitroda. What's preventing you and your colleagues from recognizing this fact? How can your concern about access to education be addressed when the system requires a billion tongues to be replaced? What is your roadmap for higher education in Indian languages? Hello? Hello? Are you there?

Update: Oh oh. Mr. Pitroda actually wrote a letter to the Prime Minister asking for a billion tongues to be replaced with English. Who commissioned these educationist-apologies to head 'knowledge commissions' in India? God save India from these unscientific men of power!

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a dumb post. Huh!!

Jockey said...

What an educated comment. Huh!!!

shankar said...

why should pitroda worry about development of languages. Languages are already losing its importance as their dictionaries are not big.

In european countries however they have their own signifiers for every single word of english. well almost%

"So, we need to expand more colleges, more universities, more research programs, more teachers, more facilities, so on and so forth," and we cant wait for Indian languages to "DEVELOP" and build their dictionaries and then build universities for them.

Those who make decisions havent seen a DEMO of whether it would work for Indian environment. In 10-15 years the debate of education in indian languages will fade away and everyone will start talking about only the "quality in education" the preferred language to get educated in will be english.

Jockey said...

@ shankar,

Can you tell me why we cannot do what European countries have done w.r.t. signifiers for every single word of English?

Of course we can't wait for Indian languages to "DEVELOP". They don't develop on their own. They need hard money and dedicated men and women. That is part of Pitroda's job - to at least identify the need for such an effort.

It is incorrect that decisions are always made when a DEMO exists. It is part of a responsible government's job to work on that DEMO, too!

Any focus on "quality in education" must involve a discussion on the medium of education. It's a pity that Pitroda doesn't bring up this crucial point - showing that Pitroda's remarks are themselves bereft of any quality!

Mohan Kumar said...

I think there are two issues here.

One is the divide between the largely urban, middle-class and above children who go to English medium schools and acquire a degree of fluency in English and those belonging to rural areas and poorer sections of urban societies who don't have the opportunities to become fluent in English. At present, the first category has a definite advantage over the second category. This is completely unfair to the second category since their economic situation puts them at a disadvantage. This divide must be bridged at all costs.

It can be accomplished by making those belonging to the second category fluent in English. Even if they study in a school whose medium of instruction is not English, the method of teaching English must be improved by leaps and bounds so that they are able to fluent communicate in both their mother tongue and English on any topic.

Let's face it, everyone wants their children to go to English medium schools. Even poor parents would try to do everything it takes to pay the high fees that these private schools charge to give their children an education in an English medium school. They cannot be blamed as the blame lies with the poor standards of government run schools which are in a sorry state of affais in almost all states.

The government run schools must improve the standard of education provided. This applies to both the overall education itself and the methods they use to teach English. And English fluency should not be denied to those who study in government schools. It's both unfair and places them at a disadvantage when compared to children around the world.

Whether one goes to a school where the language of instruction is English or the mother tongue should not matter at all. A student should be able to fluently use both the mother tongue and English in all fields. Complete bi-lingual fluency (the ability to completely understand and express, read and write fluently) in both the mother tongue and English is the need of the hour.

There is no absolutely no need for a third language to be forced down the throats of children as it prevents them from becoming fluent in their own language and English. If the mother tongue differs from the first language/English, they can learn it as an option either at school or outside.

In fact, I think Mr. Pitroda's recommendations are reasonable and aimed at bridging an unnecessary divide. He understands that a "one size fits all" system will be a miserable failure and will destroy education in the country. This is completely the opposite of what Kapil Sibal is bent on doing with his vile agenda of creating a "one size fits all" system. Sibal's agenda is an evil one of concentrating more power in the hands of a few criminal politicians like himself and crooked bureaucrats and it should be opposed at all costs!

The other issue is that of higher education in the mother tongue. Its up to the linguistic states themselves to devise such an agenda in their respective languages. People should be free to choose the language of instruction (mother tongue/English) in both secondary and tertiary education. Whatever the choice, the end result should be the same - a fully bi-lingual individual who is able to fully express and understand anything in two languages, the language of the state/mother tongue and English.

Jockey said...

@ Mohan Kumar,

Please clarify to everybody one thing before we continue: do you, or do you not believe in the greater effectiveness of using one's own language in education? Do you believe Kannada is the best medium of education for Kannadigas?

If we differ on this point, there is no point in me putting together any further arguments.

Mohan Kumar said...

@Jockey:

I definitely believe one's own language must be an important part of education and that is what I've written in my comment - the end result must be complete bi-lingual fluency in one's own language and English. For instance, once a Kannadiga completes school, he/she should be able to fluently express/understand anything in any field (scientific, literary, spiritual, technical etc.) in two languages - Kannada and English. There can be no doubt about this.

However, I don't quite subscribe to the theory that the mother tongue is better as a medium of instruction than English, if that is what you wanted me to clarify.

I don't see English as harmful to the mother tongue in any way. It's quite the opposite, English serves to enrich the mother tongue and its speaker in many ways.

The real issue here is different, though. One cannot force a Kannadiga (for example) to send his/her child to a Kannada medium school. It is bound to backfire and will only harm Kannadigas and their prospects in the long run. That's only because of the sorry state of the education system in government run schools (poor facilities, lack of quality teachers etc.) that use Kannada (and other languages) as the medium of instruction.

The solution does not lie in making Kannada as the compulsory medium of instruction in all private schools. Such a move will make parents prefer other schools that use English as a medium of instruction and Kannada may not even be taught as a language in such schools. It will only create a huge gap between two classes of Kannadigas. Those Kannadigas educated in English may barely be able to read and write in Kannada and those educated in Kannada may barely be able to speak English. This will create unnecessary tensions and conflicts between Kannadigas themselves (like rich-poor, urban-rural, middle class-working class etc.) and will benefit no one.

Instead, the Karnataka government (and other state governments) can choose to strike at the root causes of the problem by following three simple steps.

1) By allocating massive resources to government run schools, improving their infrastructure, recruiting dedicated teachers, providing extra facilities and stressing the importance of learning (and speaking fluent) English as the second language in government run Kannada medium schools. When this is done, parents won't waste their hard-earned money on private schools since quality education is available in government run Kannada medium schools which make their children fluent in both Kannada and English.

2) By allowing private schools teach either Kannada or English as the medium or instruction. Let the schools themselves decide whether they want to use Kannada or English as the language of instruction. If they choose English, Kannada must be the compulsory second language and the standard of Kannada taught must be high with emphasis on advanced literary Kannada and technical Kannada in the higher classes. If the medium of instruction is Kannada, English must be the compulsory second language and the standard of English taught must be high with emphasis on spoken English and advanced technical English in the higher classes.

3) By making the teaching of Kannada a compulsory second language in English medium schools of any board and this applies to the crappy central board schools affiliated to CBSE, ICSE etc.

If this is done, anyone who completes school in Karnataka will be completely bi-lingual and fluent in two languages - Kannada and English. There will be no class divide or rural-urban divide and Kannadigas can use Kannada in all fields while in Karnataka and English when outside Karnataka (apart from learning the language of the city/state/foreign country in which they live). The beautiful Kannada language would automatically "develop" itself to the extent of European languages. This applies to other linguistic states as well.

This is a simple, logical path to "develop" Kannada by using English as a tool to enrich Kannada since English only helps Kannada and all Kannadigas.

Jockey said...

@ Mohan Kumar

I like your idea of making Kannada and English equal in their endowments (at least at the school stage as per your comment) in order to remove rural-urban divide.

You are absolutely right in your analysis that Kannada can only be helped by English. Your other guidelines on how to improve education in Kannada are good, too.

However, disappointed as I am that you don't believe MT is a better medium of instruction, what intrigues me is - why don't you subscribe to the complete wiping away of Kannada from education? Why should anybody be taught in Kannada if you don't believe it's in anyway better than English?

Mohan Kumar said...

@Jockey:

Thanks for understanding my comments. I know I've disappointed you by not subscribing to the theory of MT being better as a medium of instruction. However, for the benefit of our own people and languages, it's sometimes better to look at things from a practical point of view rather than an ideological or theoretical one.

How can I subscribe to a stupid idea like wiping away Kannada from education? I'm not crazy! I've clearly stated that the Kannada language is a very important part of education in Karnataka and education itself would not be complete unless a Kannadiga is completely fluent in Kannada.

Let's face it, MT as the compulsory medium of education has been tried in India before and the end results have been disastrous for the ones who've tried it. West Bengal tried before it and the move only affected Bengalis and their prospects so it was scrapped. This was acknowledged by Amartya Sen. Some Hindi-speaking states have tried it and the results have been equally disastrous. The students of those schools don't know any language other than Hindi and they are mostly rural and poor students while the richer, urban parents spent money to send their children to private English medium schools. Karnataka should not go down this well-trodden (and failed) path as it will only harm Kannada, Kannadigas and Karnataka in the long run.

Rigid ideological positions (that inevitably backfire) must be set aside and more practical methods must be tried instead. That's what I've mentioned in my comments and there may be many more steps. Think of it - practical methods and paths of least resistance usually succeed. If Karnataka made Kannada the compulsory medium of instruction in private schools, what would happen? Schools would oppose it, Kannadiga parents themselves would oppose it, children would be trained to oppose it and finally, people will flock to crappy, useless central board schools because they offer English medium instruction and such schools would neglect Kannada, Karnataka, Kannadiga pride and history and impose one regional language that's not needed in Karnataka. Kannada would slowly lose its importance in Karnataka itself. Is this what you want? Certainly not!

On the other hand, let the private schools be free to choose between Kannada and English without penalising them but make Kannada (advanced literary and technical Kannada in higher classes) a compulsory language in such schools. No one is going to oppose it as every Kannadiga would naturally want his/her child to be fluent in his/her mother tongue.

At the same time, improve government run Kannada medium schools to such an extent that parents are eager to send their children to such schools which don't disadvantage them but instead are a benefit since they provide quality bi-lingual education (Kannada medium but assured English fluency) for free. What would the result be? The craze for English medium schools would be stopped and may even be reversed. Kannada medium would naturally become more popular and this would automatically "develop" Kannada and pave the way for optional higher education in Kannada. At some point of time, an equilibrium would be reached when Kannada has "developed" itself to the level of a European language. Every one in Karnataka would be bi-lingual in Kannada and English and any Kannada/English medium debate would become meaningless as they both offer the same end result (complete bi-lingual fluency) with everything from pre-KG to doctorates in all fields available in both English and Kannada mediums and the choice left to individuals.

...continued below...

Mohan Kumar said...

...continued...

This is the only way to "develop" Kannada naturally to the level of English without going down the well-trodden (and failed) path of forcing private schools to teach in Kannada medium. This is the need of the hour for the other linguistic states as well.

It's being accepted even in Europe that English is not harming European languages in any way (but enriching them and their speakers) and bi-lingual schools (MT/English) are gaining popularity even in European countries like Germany as they are throughout the rest of the world. In a localised-globalised world, it's rapidly becoming the norm for every person to be fluently bi-lingual in MT and English. Karnataka (and other states of India) just need to follow this successful path of bi-lingualism in Kannada (and other MTs) and English.

Any attempt to force an unnecessary regional language (Hindi) down the throats of their children should be vehemently opposed as it is a serious burden, unfair and unethical.

Jockey said...

@ Mohan Kumar,

First of all, I would like to thank you very much for your detailed responses.

Coming to your comments, I never said MT medium has to be made compulsory, so please don't go there.

In fact, I am not even going to implementation details - what the govt should do, what schools should do, what parents should do, etc etc.

I asked you a very innocent question - as to whether you believe MT education is best - and your answer still intrigues me. On the one hand you still maintain that Kannada medium is not necessarily best for Kannadigas, but on the other hand you are all for improving the quality of Kannada education.

Why do you care? Why improve the quality of education in Kannada? Is it because of sentimental reasons? What is your motivation? If, by your own admission, English is equally good for Kannadigas, why 'waste time' on Kannada?

My question is not sentimental. It's a very practical question. If someone can show me that English as good as Kannada for educating Kannadigas, I will myself argue for using English as the medium. Then the choice of language doesn't even make sense.

In fact - let me try to understand you better - you said people should have the choice of medium of instruction. Tell me, why should anybody choose Kannada?

ನಾಗೇಶ್ said...

Unless, Indian languages are elevated to the status of English, it's wrong to distance English from higher education in India. Almost 80 lakh students take 10th std exams in Karnataka and only around 25000 engineers, 5 thousand doctors, and may be a lakh graduates come out of college. So, where are the other 75 lakh+ students ?? They are not able to contribute nor get the benefit of globalisation due to a simple reason that they are not able to cope up with English medium higher education.

ಕೆಲವರಿಗೆ ಇದೆಲ್ಲಾ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷಲ್ಲೇ ಆಗೋ ದಿನ ಬರತ್ತೆ ಅನ್ನೋ ತಪ್ಪು ತಿಳುವಳಿಕೆ ಇದೆ. ಅಂಥೋರು ಈ ಅಂಶಗಳ್ನ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಮೆಲಕು ಹಾಕಲಿ:

* ಕಲಿಕೆಯ ಎಲ್ಲ ಅವಕಾಶಗಳು ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷಲ್ಲಿ ದೊರಕಬೇಕು ಅಂದ್ರೆ ದೇಶದ ಜನರಿಗೆ ಮೊದಲು ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷ್ ಕಲಿಸಬೇಕು. ಯಾಕೆಂದ್ರೆ ದೇಶದ ಜನಸಂಖ್ಯೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷ್ ಬಲ್ಲವರ ಸಂಖ್ಯೆ ಶೇಕಡಾ 10 ಇರಬಹುದಷ್ಟೆ. ಅದು ನಮ್ಮ ರಾಜ್ಯಕ್ಕೂ ಅನ್ವಯಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಅಂದ್ರೆ ನಮ್ಮ ನಾಡಿನ ಐದೂವರೆ ಕೋಟಿ ಜನರಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು 55 ಲಕ್ಷಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷ್ ಗೊತ್ತು. ಬ್ರಿಟಿಶರು ನಮ್ಮನ್ನ 300 ವರ್ಷ ಆಳಿದ ಮೇಲೆ ಈ ನಾಡಿನ ಶೇಕಡಾ 10 ರಷ್ಟು ಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಬರುತ್ತೆ. ಉಳದಿರೊ ಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಕಲಿಸೊ ಹೊತ್ತಿಗೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಐವತ್ತೋ, ಅರವತ್ತೋ ತಲೆಮಾರು ಸರಿದು ಹೊಗಿರುತ್ತೆ! ಅಮೇಲೆ ಏನ್ ಮಣ್ಣ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆ, ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿ ಮಾಡ್ತಿವಿ? ಅಷ್ಟು ವರ್ಷ ಹಿಂದುಳಿದರೆ ನಾವು ಬದುಕೋದೇ ಇಲ್ಲ!
* 90 ಪ್ರತಿಶತ ಜನ ಮಾತಾಡೋ ಭಾಷೆಲಿ ಇಂಥದೊಂದು ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ತರೋದು ಸುಲಭವೋ? ಇಲ್ಲವೇ ಶೇಕಡಾ 10 ಜನ ಮಾತಾಡೋ ಭಾಷೇಲೋ?
* ಒಂದು ಜನಾಂಗ, ಆ ಜನಾಂಗ ಮಾತಾಡೋ ಭಾಷೆ, ಅವರ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿ ಒಂದಕೊಂದು ತಳಕು ಹಾಕಿಕೊಂಡಿರುತ್ತವೆ. ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಅನ್ನೊದು ಆ ಶಕ್ತೀನ ಪಡಕೊಳ್ಳೊದಕ್ಕೆ ಇರೋ ಸಾಧನ. ಆ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ಮಾತೃಭಾಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಾಗ ಮಾತ್ರ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗೆ ಆತ್ಮ ವಿಶ್ವಾಸ ಪಡೆದು, ತನ್ನಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯವನ್ನು ಹೊರಗೆಡವಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗೊದು ಮತ್ತು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾದಾಗಲೇ ನಮ್ಮ ನೆಲದಿಂದ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಉತ್ಪನ್ನಗಳೂ, ಪೇಟೆಂಟುಗಳೂ ಬರಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗೊದು.
* ಕನ್ನಡಿಗನ ಬೌದ್ಧಿಕ ವಿಕಾಸಕ್ಕೆ, ತಲೆ ಚುರುಕಾಗಿ ಕೆಲ್ಸಮಾಡೋಕೆ ಆತನ ಮಾತೃಭಾಷೇಲಿ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಭಾಳ ಮುಖ್ಯ. ಇದನ್ನ ನಾವಲ್ಲ ಹೇಳ್ತಿರೊದು, ಜಗತ್ತಿನಾದ್ಯಂತ ಆಗಿರೊ ನೂರಾರು ಸಾವಿರಾರು ಸಮೀಕ್ಷೆಗಳು ಸಾರಿ ಸಾರಿ ಹೇಳ್ತಾ ಇವೆ. ಇದನ್ನ ವಿಶ್ವಸಂಸ್ಥೇನೂ ಹೇಳ್ತಾ ಬಂದಿದೆ, ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರೂ ಬಹಳ ಹಿಂದೇನೇ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

ಕೆಲವರಿಗೆ ಇದೆಲ್ಲಾ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷಲ್ಲೇ ಆಗೋ ದಿನ ಬರತ್ತೆ ಅನ್ನೋ ತಪ್ಪು ತಿಳುವಳಿಕೆ ಇದೆ. ಅಂಥೋರು ಈ ಅಂಶಗಳ್ನ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಮೆಲಕು ಹಾಕಲಿ:

* ಕಲಿಕೆಯ ಎಲ್ಲ ಅವಕಾಶಗಳು ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷಲ್ಲಿ ದೊರಕಬೇಕು ಅಂದ್ರೆ ದೇಶದ ಜನರಿಗೆ ಮೊದಲು ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷ್ ಕಲಿಸಬೇಕು. ಯಾಕೆಂದ್ರೆ ದೇಶದ ಜನಸಂಖ್ಯೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷ್ ಬಲ್ಲವರ ಸಂಖ್ಯೆ ಶೇಕಡಾ 10 ಇರಬಹುದಷ್ಟೆ. ಅದು ನಮ್ಮ ರಾಜ್ಯಕ್ಕೂ ಅನ್ವಯಿಸುತ್ತದೆ. ಅಂದ್ರೆ ನಮ್ಮ ನಾಡಿನ ಐದೂವರೆ ಕೋಟಿ ಜನರಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು 55 ಲಕ್ಷಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲೀಷ್ ಗೊತ್ತು. ಬ್ರಿಟಿಶರು ನಮ್ಮನ್ನ 300 ವರ್ಷ ಆಳಿದ ಮೇಲೆ ಈ ನಾಡಿನ ಶೇಕಡಾ 10 ರಷ್ಟು ಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಬರುತ್ತೆ. ಉಳದಿರೊ ಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಕಲಿಸೊ ಹೊತ್ತಿಗೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಐವತ್ತೋ, ಅರವತ್ತೋ ತಲೆಮಾರು ಸರಿದು ಹೊಗಿರುತ್ತೆ! ಅಮೇಲೆ ಏನ್ ಮಣ್ಣ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆ, ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿ ಮಾಡ್ತಿವಿ? ಅಷ್ಟು ವರ್ಷ ಹಿಂದುಳಿದರೆ ನಾವು ಬದುಕೋದೇ ಇಲ್ಲ!
* 90 ಪ್ರತಿಶತ ಜನ ಮಾತಾಡೋ ಭಾಷೆಲಿ ಇಂಥದೊಂದು ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ತರೋದು ಸುಲಭವೋ? ಇಲ್ಲವೇ ಶೇಕಡಾ 10 ಜನ ಮಾತಾಡೋ ಭಾಷೇಲೋ?
* ಒಂದು ಜನಾಂಗ, ಆ ಜನಾಂಗ ಮಾತಾಡೋ ಭಾಷೆ, ಅವರ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿ ಒಂದಕೊಂದು ತಳಕು ಹಾಕಿಕೊಂಡಿರುತ್ತವೆ. ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಅನ್ನೊದು ಆ ಶಕ್ತೀನ ಪಡಕೊಳ್ಳೊದಕ್ಕೆ ಇರೋ ಸಾಧನ. ಆ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ಮಾತೃಭಾಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಾಗ ಮಾತ್ರ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗೆ ಆತ್ಮ ವಿಶ್ವಾಸ ಪಡೆದು, ತನ್ನಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯವನ್ನು ಹೊರಗೆಡವಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗೊದು ಮತ್ತು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾದಾಗಲೇ ನಮ್ಮ ನೆಲದಿಂದ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಉತ್ಪನ್ನಗಳೂ, ಪೇಟೆಂಟುಗಳೂ ಬರಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗೊದು.
* ಕನ್ನಡಿಗನ ಬೌದ್ಧಿಕ ವಿಕಾಸಕ್ಕೆ, ತಲೆ ಚುರುಕಾಗಿ ಕೆಲ್ಸಮಾಡೋಕೆ ಆತನ ಮಾತೃಭಾಷೇಲಿ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ಭಾಳ ಮುಖ್ಯ. ಇದನ್ನ ನಾವಲ್ಲ ಹೇಳ್ತಿರೊದು, ಜಗತ್ತಿನಾದ್ಯಂತ ಆಗಿರೊ ನೂರಾರು ಸಾವಿರಾರು ಸಮೀಕ್ಷೆಗಳು ಸಾರಿ ಸಾರಿ ಹೇಳ್ತಾ ಇವೆ. ಇದನ್ನ ವಿಶ್ವಸಂಸ್ಥೇನೂ ಹೇಳ್ತಾ ಬಂದಿದೆ, ಗಾಂಧೀಜಿಯವರೂ ಬಹಳ ಹಿಂದೇನೇ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

Kannadiga said...

Healthy arguements by Mohan kumar and Jockey. I have seen European side of education and totally agree with Jockey. Every country in Europe except Ireland, Scotland and Belgium study everything beggining from Kinder garten to their post doctoral studies (or whatever) in their mother tongue and there is hardly any social exclusion as Mr. Mohan has commented. Its upto themselves if they wish to learn English and if they want, they take externals lessons on it and get themselves better in it. Education in their own language has led to such a development in all probabilities and it is my arguement. As yet they have not faced any kind of problems in outsourcing, communication with neighbouring countries, business and etc etc either. Why cannot we do it. Sorry state of affairs is that our people take english as trendy language and get infatuated with it whilst Europeans dont. Our education system ofcourse has gone beyond bounds, but by introducing Kannada in all the schools, improving quality of education in government schools and other relevant work will prove beneficial in development of ones own language. If you read irish education system you will see for yourself that they have reached a point of no return in all circles. So lets do whatever it takes to make our education system stable. Karnatakavannu kannadamayavaagisona...

Mohan Kumar said...

@Jockey:

I need to thank you as well for this healthy exchange of views.

I understand that you firmly believe, like many others, that MT as the medium of instruction is best for the child. That's your view and you have every right to hold such a view. However, I don't subscribe to this idea. For the simple reason that the other language of instruction we are talking about is English. If it was Kannada medium against some other language as the medium of instruction for Karnataka, it would be obvious that there can only be one conclusion - Kannada medium would definitely be better than the other language (whatever it is) as the medium of instruction.

That is not the case with English. The English language has become so much a part of our lives that it's almost like a second mother tongue to many of us. I'm not just speaking about the urbanised middle-class and above people, but about everyone in general (though it's more true for the urban crowd). Think of it, what language would a rural Kannadiga who has finished schooling (for instance) choose if he had to fill up a form in a language other than Kannada? It would obviously be English.

English is so much a part of our lives that it makes no difference at all whether the medium of instruction is the MT (Kannada in Karnataka) or English. That's the only reason why I don't subscribe to the theory that MT is better than English as the medium of instruction. Please note that I'm only talking about MT versus English as the medium of instruction here.

At the same time, I recognise the fact, just like you do, that there is a need to "develop" all our languages (I won't say "Indian" languages since English is also an Indian language as far as I'm concerned) to the level of English and other modern languages. This is for the simple reason that India is more diverse linguistically than even Europe and each one of our languages needs to "develop" itself to the extent of modern European languages.

This cannot be done by deliberately decreasing the importance of English. As we've seen, such a move has been tried before with only one result - it has backfired badly and severely affected the ones who have tried it.

There is no question of "wasting time" on Kannada at all. There can be no doubt about the fact that the quality of Kannada (and other languages) education has to be improved drastically and that Kannada (and other languages) need to be "developed" to the level of English.

...continued below...

Mohan Kumar said...

...continued...

The question is about the ways and means to do it. Let's face it - people choose the medium of instruction of their children's school based only on the opportunities that it can provide for their children in the future. We can keep arguing for days and months on the advantages/disadvantages of MT/English as the medium of instruction here. It's going to make no difference at all to a parent who is about to send his child to school. Even parents belonging to the working classes like auto-rickshaw drivers, truck drivers, maids etc. work harder to earn a little more money to send their children to English medium schools. No need to mention the middle-class salaried people at all. Everyone recognises the opportunities that are provided by the English language. English will always have an advantage because it has naturally become the language of the globe and English is the common language of the world in innumerable fields. So English can be ignored only at one's own peril.

The only option left to "develop" Kannada (and other languages) is to gradually provide equal opportunities to those who study in Kannada medium. By improving the quality of Kannada education and making it more attractive, parents will see no disadvantage in sending their children to Kannada medium schools that also teach a high level of English. This will naturally pave the way for higher education in Kannada medium. Universities in Karnataka can then begin to offer courses upto the level of doctorate and there will be students willing to join such courses in droves as it does not disadvantage them at all.

If equal opportunities are provided to those who study in Kannada medium and English medium schools by utilising the English language to "develop" Kannada (and teaching English as the window to the world), more and more people will naturally choose Kannada on their own.

I agree with ನಾಗೇಶ್ when he says that "They are not able to contribute nor get the benefit of globalisation due to a simple reason that they are not able to cope up with English medium higher education."

Let's take the case of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland, even after becoming independent of the United Kingdom did not ignore English though they have their own language, Irish, which is very different from English. That's because they recognise that changing everything from English to Irish will only backfire and affect them badly. So they have adopted a policy of gradually "developing" Irish and the results are very encouraging. Higher education in Irish medium is available and becoming more popular gradually, though slowly. At some point an equilibrium will be reached when Irish has "developed" itself to the level of English and the medium of instruction would not matter at all. It's upto us to emulate successful models of "developing" languages gradually or choose failed models of forcing MT as the medium of instruction and watching them backfire and hurt the very people it was intended to benefit.

Jockey said...

@ Mohan Kumar,

Welcome back - you were gone for a long time...:-)

You seem to believe very firmly that Kannadigas are good in English in general. I have data to prove that that is not the case. Even to this date, 80% of Kannadiga school children study in the Kannada medium, and are far from being even introduced to English. Their parents are even further removed from English.

Frankly, your belief here seems biased by data from the urban areas.

I agree with your analysis of Ireland. But Karnataka is far from being Ireland when it comes to fluency in English. The comparison is not apples-to-apples.

And - I still cannot see why you want to "develop" Kannada if your claim is that English suffices.

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