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Is our love for Anglophonic education killing the Indian system?

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By Harshmeet Singh

India is perhaps the only nation in the world where people are regarded as ‘knowledgeable’ or ‘unknowledgeable’ based on the language they speak. An English speaking person is invariably regarded as a value addition to the society. It can be argued that thrust for English in our schools is largely a case of ‘schools adhering to the demands of the society’. Is the society to be blamed for our blind love for English that is dismantling our education system or is the education system at fault for pushing for Anglophonic education blindly?

During their 200 year rule over the Indian Territory, the British tried hard to establish English as the primary medium of education in the country. Their main purpose being the requirement of a low paid working class population that can communicate with the Company’s officials. 68 years after the independence, we have established a much more holistic English privileged system as compared to the one the British were trying to setup in India!

India is called the ‘back-end’ office of the world, majorly due to our cost effective service sector. Our aspirations of becoming a ‘knowledge economy’ are largely behind the recent push for English in our education sector. While there is no fault in such thinking, the problem started when we assumed English to be the magic wand that would fix all our problems, from the lack of skill set to rising unemployment. We assumed that ‘English’ will take us to the path of greatness. And boy, were we wrong!

Today, students in a Hindi (or mother tongue) medium school are considered ‘second class’ by the society. Millions of parents belonging to the lower middle and middle income group spend their precious money to send their kids to English medium schools since these schools are considered to be better for no apparent reason! Even states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, which are known to promote their local language by all means, are now giving the students an option to choose English as the medium of instruction in the state run schools. This is aimed at retaining the students in these schools and stopping them from opting for a private English medium school.

The fact that learning is most effective when carried out in child’s mother tongue is no secret. A number of studies, including the ones from UNESCO indicate that children beginning their school in their mother tongue are likely to perform much better than the ones who begin school with other language. The National Curriculum Framework 2005 clearly states that “the schools must follow a 3 language formula. The first language to be taught must be the mother tongue of the child.” NCF 2005 also says that the learning inside the classroom must be linked with the child’s surroundings to provide a better understanding. This ‘linkage’ between the classroom education and everyday life is much better facilitated by teaching the child in his mother tongue.

When our constitution makers made English the official language of the Supreme Court, they didn’t intend to establish the supremacy of English over the other languages. In a country like India which has hundreds of dialects, a common language (apart from the regional languages) was a necessity to bring people from all across the country at a common stage.

Our obsession with English has made sure that most of our students are stranded in between when they finish school. The policy makers need to accept that English can’t fill in for an unskilled professional. Our policies shaping the mass education programs must keep the on ground socio-economic conditions in mind rather than an obsession for English. We must understand that English is just a language; a medium to impart teaching and skills that form the basis of a sound education. Let’s not take away a child’s right to be educated just because he preferred some other language over English.

 

The author is a Freelance writer. This article was written exclusively for NewsGram.

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Savitribai Phule: The Pioneer Of The Women Education In India

Savitribai Phule fought for women’s education from the cultural patterns of the male-dominated society as a mission of her life

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Savitribai Phule along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule played a vital role in raising the women's rights in India during the British Rule. Wikimedia Commons
Savitribai Phule along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule played a vital role in raising the women's rights in India during the British Rule. Wikimedia Commons
  • Savitribai Phule was the first female teacher of the first women’s school in India
  • Savitribai Phule is regarded as a crucial asset in the social reform movement in Maharashtra
  • Savitribai Phule started her own school for girls education in Pune in 1848

Savitribai Phule is India’s first Modern feminist and a well-known social reformer who along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule played a vital role in raising the women’s rights in India during the British Rule. She was the first female teacher of the first women’s school in India and also considered as the pioneer of modern Marathi poetry. In 1852, Savitribai Phule opened a school for Untouchable girls which were a great challenge to take at that time.

Savitribai Phule was born on 3 January 1831 in Naigaon, Maharashtra, British India. She was married to 12-year-old Jyotirao Phule at the age of nine. Savitribai Phule is regarded as a crucial asset in the social reform movement in Maharashtra.

Battling for women education

Savitribai Phule fought for women’s education from the cultural patterns of the male-dominated society as a mission of her life. She worked towards tackling some of the then major social issues like women’s liberation, removal of untouchability and widow remarriages. Due to her efforts for women empowerment in the society, Savitribai Phule used to be followed by orthodox men and was abused by them in obscene language. People would target her with rotten eggs, cow dung, tomatoes, stones but she ignored all that, just to reach her school. After suffering so much, she once decided to give up but her husband, Jyotiba Phule came in full support for her. Jyotiba Phule encouraged his wife to continue with her cause.

Also Read: 15 Amazing Facts About The Revolutionary Bhagat Singh

But still, both husband and wife faced fierce resistance from the orthodox elements of society. Savitribai Phule got herself admitted to a training school and came out with flying colours with another Muslim lady, Fatima Sheikh. After that, she started her own school for girls education in Pune in 1848. Although, the response Savitribai Phule got was not that much uplifting but she was determined by what she was doing.

In 1852, Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule were felicitated by the government for their commendable efforts in the field of education and other social causes. Wikimedia Commons
In 1852, Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule were felicitated by the government for their commendable efforts in the field of education and other social causes. Wikimedia Commons

With the passage of time, people started to accept them and hence both husband and wife were able to open 5 more schools in the year 1848 itself. Taking a note of Savitribai Phule’s hard work, British government honoured her for her educational work. Jyotiba and Savitribai were also opposed to idol worship. For their work, both husband and wife were socially isolated and were attacked by the people whom they questioned.

The next big step that she took was to take a stand for widows. In those days, if a man used to die of old age or some sickness and the girls they had married were left, widows. The windows were treated like an unwanted piece of dump in the society. Widow’s head was shaved and they were not allowed to use any cosmetics that may make them look beautiful. Such a condition of widows moved Savitribai Phule and her husband. Thus, they went on for a protest to stop barbers from shaving the heads of widows.

Also Read: 10 Facts You Need To Know About Homi Bhabha

Here are some of the facts related to the life of Savitribai Phule and her husband, Jyotirao Phule during there struggling for various social causes.

  1. In 1897, Savitribai Phule with the full support of her son, Yashwantrao Gupta, opened a clinic to treat those affected by the pandemic of the bubonic plague when it appeared in the area around Nallasopara. As per records, she used to feed two thousand children every day during the time of the epidemic.
  2. Two books of her poems were published posthumously, Kavya Phule (1934) and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar (1982). Savitribai Phule wrote many poems against discrimination and advised to get educated. Being a poet and a philosopher and wrote on the importance of education and knowledge and removal of caste discrimination.
  3. In 2015, the University of Pune was renamed as Savitribai Phule Pune University to her honour deeds.
  4. Savitribai Phule died on 10 March 1897 while serving a plague patient.
  5. Google India Celebrate her Birthday January 3, 2017, with Doodle.
  6. Savitribai Phule was herself a victim of child marriage as she was married to Jyotirao Phule when she was only 12 years old.
  7. Savitribai Phule opened ‘Infanticide prohibition house’ care centre for pregnant rape victims and helped them to deliver their babies. She put up boards on streets about the “Delivery Home” for women, who were forced for their pregnancy. The delivery home was called “Balhatya  Pratibandhak Griha”.
  8. Savitribai Phule worked towards abolishing the caste-based and gender-based discrimination in the Indian society.
  9. In 1852, Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule were felicitated by the government for their commendable efforts in the field of education and other social causes.
  10. After her marriage, Savitribai Phule enrolled herself in a training centre at Ms Farar’s Institution at Ahmednagar and in Ms Mitchell’s school in Pune.

Also Read: 10 Must-Know Facts About Subhas Chandra Bose

In 1852, Savitribai Phule opened a school for Untouchable girls which were a great challenge to take at that time.Wikimedia Commons
In 1852, Savitribai Phule opened a school for Untouchable girls which were a great challenge to take at that time.Wikimedia Commons

Savitribai Phule fought against all forms of social inequalities for any section of the society. They even moved by the plight of untouchables in the society. As untouchables were not allowed to take out water from the wells, meant for the upper caste. So, Savitribai Phule and Jyotiba Phule started their own reservoir of water for the untouchables in the vicinity of their house.