Amid controversy and confusion over the National Education Policy’s emphasis on mother tongue as the medium of instruction till class five, Union Minister of Education Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal on Sunday, 2 August, said that the central government will not impose any language on any state.
Responding to a tweet by former Union minister and BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnanan, Dr Pokhriyal tweeted in Tamil, saying, “ We look forward to your guidance in implementing the National Education Policy (NEP) in Tamil Nadu. I would like to reiterate that the Central Government will not impose any language on any state.”
What does the NEP say about mother tongue?
Under a section titled Multilingualism and the power of language, the National Education Policy states that ‘wherever possible’, the medium of instruction in both government and private schools will be in the “home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language” until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond.
“Thereafter, the home/local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible,” the NEP adds.
According to the NEP, ‘high-quality’ textbooks in mother-tongue or local languages will be introduced fro subjects like Science. Additionally, in cases where the medium of instruction is different from the mother language or home language, the language of transaction between teachers and students, wherever possible, will still remain in mother language or home language.
Additionally, teachers will be encouraged to use a bilingual approach, including bilingual teaching-learning materials, with those students whose home language may be different from the medium of instruction.
What is the confusion about?
Although NEP mentions that the medium of instruction till class five will be in mother tongue or local language ‘wherever possible’, it does not define on what grounds such a possibility will be determined.
Schools also don't know how the medium of instruction will be determined in a class with different linguistic groups.
Schools also worry about the definition of regional/local language, which may be different from one another.
Schools affiliated to ICSE & ISC boards, which are exclusively English Medium, are also worried about the provision.