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English the Medium of Education

English the Medium of Education

Context:

The Supreme Court refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order striking down the state government’s decision to make English the medium of education for government school students from Classes I to VI beginning 2020-21 academic year.

  • According to the Supreme Court, Section 29(2)(f) of the Right to Education (RTE) Act says that the medium of instruction shall, as far as practicable, be in a child’s mother tongue.

Arguments made by the court:

  • The ability to speak in English qualifies one for many jobs that are not yet available for speakers of regional languages. Knowing English is often equated with progressiveness.
  • As per the court, lack of knowledge of English will put the students of government schools on a backfoot as compared to those of English-medium private schools in competitive exams,
  • Most scientific books are available only in English and much of higher education is also imparted in English. This may hinder the access of students from government schools to STEM and higher education.
  • English being the global lingua franca gives the students the opportunity to compete at the global level.

Constitutional and Legal Provisions:

  • Article 29 (Protection of interests of minorities) gives all citizens the right to conserve their language and prohibits discrimination on the basis of language.
  • Article 120 (Language to be used in Parliament) provides for use of Hindi or English for transactions of parliament but gives the right to members of parliament to express themselves in their mother tongue.
  • Part XVII of the Indian Constitution deals with the official languages in Articles 343 to 351.
  • Article 350A: It provides that it shall be the endeavor of every State and of every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups.
  • Article 351: It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language.

Source: Indian Express