About a month back an old issue came to life once again. The issue of medium of instruction in primary schools. The Issue is not the medium instruction as such. It is the government aid given to primary schools.
In the beginning all schools which were eligible for aid got aid. Then the government decided that the mother tongue should be the medium of instruction at primary level and said that it would not give aid to English medium schools. That was about twenty years back. Schools which were teaching in English either switched to local languages (Konkani/ Marathi in Goa) or charged extra fee for English medium. This went on for nearly twenty years. This year suddenly there was a demand from a large section of the society that the government give aid to English medium schools also. There was also a section which opposed aid to English medium. Depending up on which side of the bread they saw butter, politicians took sides.
Arguments and counter arguments flew thick. Mother tongue supporters said that a child can grasp much better what is taught in mother tongue and so, teaching in MT forms a firm knowledge base and many more such things. English supporters said that our children are losing out because they are deprived of English which is absolutely necessary for future prospects and many more such things. After kicking the issue around for some time and passing it on to the ‘Center’ for views, the ruling party saw that there were more numbers behind English and announced that “after careful consideration of all aspects” it has decided to give aid to English medium schools too. The section of politicians who were against English medium - the ‘Bharatiya bhasha suraksha mandal’ decided to protest and held a ‘rasta roko’ and also called for Goa bundh on 6th june.
My view is that both the arguments are baseless. A child can learn in any language and can learn any language if taught properly at the appropriate time. My vision does not go far. But what I have seen near me makes me feel so. I learnt in Kannada medium till 7th standard and then switched to English medium. Whatever others say, I think that I am not bad either in Kannada or in English or in anything that I learnt using these languages. My sister learnt in English medium till 7th standard and learnt Kannada only later. She is better than me in both and everything else. My children’s primary education was neither in English nor in their mother tongue Kannada. They learnt in Konkani and are fine in Kannada, English and Konkani as well as whatever they learnt in those languages.
The whole thing was bugging me. The photograph of our leaders squatting on the highway blocking the traffic and the “Bundh”call, both of which I always hate, increased the irritation and I had to say something somewhere. So I wrote a letter to “Navhind Times”. I do not know if they were short of words today. They published it with a heading “Nuisance to Public”.
Nuisance to Public.
It was disgusting to see the ex chief ministers, sitting M L As, MP, and so called dignitaries and intellectuals posing proudly for the photograph while blocking the high way.
Blocking the road, (other than providing news coverage to these people), only causes hardships to citizens and nothing else. This is just a step away from acts like stone pelting, setting fire to buses and cutting railway lines and is a disgrace to any civil society.
These people who should condemn such acts are encouraging them.
It is a pity that our leaders cannot even think of better ways of protest.
Now they have called for Goa bundh on 6th June. Yet another nuisance. Where are our leaders leading us?
M S Raghunandan, Ponda
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