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Indian languages as an ‘optional medium of instruction’ in Schools: CBSE

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    28th Jul, 2023

Context

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has directed to all its affiliated schools stating that they may consider using Indian languages as an optional medium of instruction in addition to other existing options from pre-primary classes till Class 12.

About the initiative:

  • The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), under directions of the Ministry of Education, has started gearing up to produce textbooks in 22 scheduled Indian languages to initiate teaching-learning through Indian language medium in addition to English medium in CBSE schools.
  • These steps are in line with the provisions under National Education Policy 2020.
    • The National Education Policy (NEP) says that wherever possible the medium of instruction in schools until Grade V and preferably until Grade VIII -- should be the mother tongue or the local or regional language.  

Article 350 of the Indian Constitution states that “It shall be the endeavour 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”.

Official Languages of India:

  • The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution lists the official languages of the republic of India.
    • It consists of 22 languages: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri.
  • Of these languages, 14 were initially included in the Constitution.
  • Sindhi language was added by the 21st Amendment Act of 1967.
  • Konkani, Manipuri, and Nepali were included by the 71st Amendment Act of 1992.
  • Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali were added by the 92nd Amendment Act of 2003 which came into force in 2004.

Important Constitutional Articles

  • Part XVII of the Indian constitution deals with the official languages in Articles 343 to 351.
  • The Constitutional provisions related to the Eighth Schedule are:
    • Article 344: Article 344(1) provides for the constitution of a Commission by the President on expiration of five years from the commencement of the Constitution.
    • Article 351: It provides for the spread of the Hindi language to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.

Benefits of providing primary education in Indian Language:

  • Faster learning: As a child is well versed with his mother tongue, studying in the same language will ensure faster learning and retention.
  • Higher mental agility: Teaching in mother tongue and also providing education of another language/s will lead to higher synaptic activity in the brain of a child and this multi-language processing may cause higher mental agility. This mental flexibility will transfer to all areas of brain functioning.
  • Higher rate of parental participation: It will also result in a higher rate of parental participation in a child’s learning. In India due to a lack of knowledge of English, many parents are unable to participate in their child’s schooling effectively.
  • Boosts self-confidence: Learning in the local language boosts the self-confidence of children and they can express themselves better without any hesitation.
  • Conservation of culture: It helps to preserve cultural roots and deepen understanding of our heritage.
  • Reduction in dropouts: With the use of local languages for learning, dropout rates can be dramatically reduced in rural India.

Challenges associated:

  • Hindi as a most spoken language: Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India, with over 41% of the population speaking it as their first language.
  • Teacher Training in local languages: One of the major problem for introduction of Indian language in schools is teacher training and syllabus listing.
  • Language Infrastructure: For implementation of Indian languages in schools require huge capital investment like printing of books, teacher hiring and other changes in official management of records.
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