Monday April 22, 2019
Home Opinion Opt for verna...

Opt for vernacular education to see original ideas

0
//

By Harshmeet Singh

When the British first learnt about the humongous linguistic diversity in India, they refused to accept India as a nation. For them, one single language for the public was a major prerequisite for a nation, like French for France and German for Germany. Yet, against all the odds, India managed to preserve its linguistic diversity right through the monstrous British rule that lasted close to 300 years.

But slowly enough, India is losing its proud linguistic diversity. The new generation is being forced to take up education in English, thereby shrinking the population of regional language speakers across the country. The significance of regional languages in education is a much debated issue among scholars. Higher education in vernacular language is seen as the very foundation of a learned society.

The decreasing population of vernacular medium schools in India is a major cause for concern. Much before the kid enters the school system; he is exposed to his or her mother tongue. The kid’s first interaction with his surroundings is in his mother tongue. The basis of kid’s first thoughts is his mother tongue.

What does the history say?

Today’s model of our schools was shaped by the European Christian missionaries who replaced the gurukul system in our country. Subjects like English and European history overtook Sanskrit and Indian thoughts. The better employment opportunities for ‘western educated’ Indians in British administration saw a number of parents admitting their kids into the new English medium schools. Till the revolt of 1857, the British gave decent importance to the teaching of Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic languages in school. But post the revolt, primary education was neglected by the British.

In 1882, the Indian Education Commission was set up under Wilson Hunter to propose changes in the education system. While it supported vernacular medium of instruction in primary education, English still continued to be the medium of instruction at secondary and higher level. To counter this, Bal Gangadhar Tilak established the Fergusson College at Pune in 1870 while the Arya Samaj opened Dayanand Anglo Vedic College in Lahore in 1886. In 1898, Mrs. Annie Besant opened the Central Hindu College in Kashi (now Varanasi). All these were meant to give a push to education in vernacular language in the country. The next major boost to vernacular language education came during the non-cooperation movement. Institutes such as Kashi Vidyapeeth, Jamia Millia Islamia and Gujarat University also came into being to give a further push to education in vernacular language.

Importance of vernacular education

According to a UNESCO report, vernacular education greatly enhances the overall learning of the students. Yet, according to the data furnished by National University of Education, Planning and Administration (NUEPA), over 2 crore children were enrolled in English-medium schools from Classes I to VIII in 2010-11; this is a 274% hike from the numbers recorded in 2003-04!

Forcing a kid to change his thought process and think in English, rather than in his mother tongue is a grave injustice to the kid. It is akin to restricting the kid’s ability and taking away his liberty at the very beginning of his learning age. For coming up with ‘original ideas’, the kids need the freedom of thought that can only come with their mother tongue.

Next Story

Claiming Bias, U.S.A. And Israel Pull Out Of UNESCO

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

0
UNESCO, U.S.
The logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is seen druing a conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2017. VOA

The United States and Israel officially quit of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.

The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.

The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.

The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

U.S.
UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Image Source: www.mid-day.com

The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.

The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the U.S. — which accounted for around 22 percent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.

USA, shutdown
Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.

In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.

The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.

In recent years, Israel has been infuriated by repeated resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.

U.S.
Israel Flag, Pixabay

The State Department couldn’t comment because of the U.S. government shutdown. Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the U.S. intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicized” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

Also Read: Israel Unanimously Approves Medical Marijuana Exports

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003. (VOA)