Amidst criticism by other political parties, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday strongly defended his government's move to make English as the medium of instruction in place of mother tounge Telugu across all government schools, initially for Class 1 to Class 6, starting from next academic year.
"English as a medium of instruction is very essential for students, particularly those hailing from poorer sections of the society, to be able to compete with outside world for getting good jobs and finding better living prospects. If the government schools continue to teach them in Telugu language, the state itself will lag behind the other states in ensuring development and prosperity to its people," Reddy said at a function marking the 132rd birth anniversary celebrations of independent India's first Education Minister Moulana Abul Kalam Azad.
The state government's decision to covert all government schools into English medium schools has attracted criticism from the leaders like former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Jana Sena president Pawan Kalyan among others, who have said that the move was detrimental to the cause of mother tounge Telugu and the decision was being implemented without adequate preparation.
However, the government has argued that it was mostly the children of poor, who study in government schools, are taught in Telugu while most of the families send their children to private schools primarily for learning in English medium.
"I ask all those who are opposing our decision to clarify if they have sent their children and grand children to a Telugu medium school. When they have sent their children to the English medium schools, why should they preach the double standards in the name of promoting the mother tongue in schools," the chief minister questioned while stating that Telugu as a language subject will stay compulsory in all schools.
AP government also sees a bias against poor in keeping Telugu as the medium of instruction in 45,000 government schools.
There are over 7 million students studying in government and private schools up to the 10th class level in AP. Out of this, over 4.4 million, or little over 62 per cent of students are going to the English medium schools, which are essentially run by private managements.
According to the government statistics, about 82 per cent of children from upper caste (OCs) families are studying in English medium schools while the same is 33.23 per cent in case of STs, 49.61 per cent in case of SCs and 62.5 per cent in case of BC population.
The move to introduce English medium in government schools in the state is not entirely new. Earlier the authorities had tried to create separate English medium sections within the government schools. This time the government has decided to make English as the only medium of instruction for all the schools in the state.
In the first phase 1-6 classes would be moved to English medium from the next academic year while the same will be extended to the remaining four classes at the rate of one class every year as these children move to the higher classes there after. The government plans to get close to 100,000 teachers trained in English medium in a tie-up with English and Foreign Languages University and also set up English labs in every school.