Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and Governor Vajubhai Vala are in agreement over one thing: Making English a language of instruction in government schools. However the CM’s enthusiasm to build 1000 schools did not find its way into his budget. With the budget allocation for education seeing only a marginal increase this year, government-schools may not be filling their seats any time soon. With more families choosing to put their children in private, English-medium schools, their government counterparts, which are running empty, badly need the boost.
When Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy expressed the importance of education recently, followed by a promise to construct 1000 English-medium schools, it seemed as if government-run schools would receive the shot in the arm they so badly need. More families, even the financially backward, prefer privately-run English-medium schools. Government schools are running empty, forced to merge with each other to stay afloat. But with no real rise in the allocation, it seems as if this was just another set of empty promises.
Governor Vajubhai Vala too seemed to lay the ground for an announcement on these lines when in his address to the joint session of the state legislature, he defended the idea of introducing English medium in government schools, saying it was important to equip their students with skills to excel globally.
But strangely, the budget presented by the Chief Minister the next day made no mention of introducing English in government- run schools. Mr Kumaraswamy merely announced that a thousand Karnataka public schools would be established in Hobli headquarters over the next four years and education would be provided under one roof from pre-primary to class 12.
Disappointed by his reneging on his promise, Mr Anil Shetty, the lead campaigner of the statewide #SaveGovtSchools movement, says it took him and others looking forward to it by surprise. "No one expected the Chief Minister to go back on his promise of starting a 1,000 English medium government schools in the state.
When private schools offering English medium are enrolling more students with every passing year, the government should have offered the opportunity to study in English to the poor students in its schools too. The Chief Minister should realise that he has betrayed over 50 lakh students and one crore parents in the state by not acting on his promise to give them an education in English,” he adds.
The group has now decided to write to Mr Kumaraswamy on the issue and also demand the appointment of a minister to effectively handle the primary and secondary education portfolio. A disappointed government school headmaster too says that when English medium has still not been introduced in government schools, education department officials and school heads like him should not be badgered to get more children on their rolls.
Mr V.N. Rajashekhar, secretariat member of All India Save Education Committee feels its high time English is taught in government schools right from class I as it opens up windows of knowledge for students. “English not only serves as a link language among people of different states in the country, but an education in the language would open up opportunities for government school students to be on par with their counterparts in private schools,” he reasons.
Merely teaching the English alphabets in class 5 doesn’t provide the students the grounding they need in the language, in his view. “The government has failed to even recruit well trained English teachers for its schools. Not just English, even Kannada is not being taught effectively in several government schools due to teacher absenteeism,” he regrets, recommending that the state should follow a two-language policy, with both Kannada and English getting primacy....