- GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
English Language in Education
Context: Recent Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to make English the medium of instruction for all undergraduate courses (save, of course, the language subjects).
- State government has maintained that Telugu will remain a compulsory subject at the school level so that students get to learn the language
Arguments against AP Government’s decision.
- Disproportionately impacts rural students: Critics contend this would leave many students, especially from the rural areas and from economically weaker sections who are likely to have been educated in Telugu medium schools thus far, seriously disadvantaged.
- Fears of sub-optimal learning: Forcing such students to shift to English so late in their academic pursuit, critics fear, may cause sub-optimal learning vis-a-vis the students’ actual competence and aptitude.
- Attack on Culture: The opposition have sought to position the decision as an attack on Telugu culture and sacrificing the protection of Telugu language.
Arguments in Favour of AP Government’s decision.
- Needed for increasing PG Education: The language of instruction in post-graduate courses is English. Continuing with Telugu as the medium of instruction at the UG level would further delay the shift for a set of students. It would be tantamount to indirect gate-keeping of PG education.
- Aligned with people’s choices: The set of students from a Telugu-medium background who opted for the same medium at the UG level in 2020-21 was merely a quarter of the pool that joined degree courses, and the state government says the larger share of Telugu-medium students entering UG courses have themselves opted for English instruction.
- Push towards White Collar Jobs: There is a strong case for teaching in English in the later years as it is the de facto language of white-collar employment, which provides better income & social security.
- Enhances employability of students: English-learning at the undergraduate level increases the employability of students in globalised world. Survey shows that English fluency results in a difference of up to 34% in hourly wages for Indian men, with the advantage going up commensurately with the degree of relative fluency.
- Getting Future Ready: English skills are likely to become far more important in the future; for future jobs in the technology sector (AI, Machine Learning, Big Data Analytics), English proficiency will become as key as technical training. Therefore, the state has to ensure that students get all the support needed to transition from Telugu to English.
Connecting the dots:
- New Education Policy 2020
- Right to Education Act
- Operation Digital Board