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The Demand towards English-Medium Education Continues

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A Demand for English-Medium Education
English is now the third most important language in India if one goes by the medium of instruction at upper primary level. That's significant in a country of 22 official languages. Hindi is still way ahead which isn't surprising as Hindi speaking states are more populated and even when it comes to the number of states, Hindi is a language which is spread across several states (in the north).

The preference for English as a medium of instruction in schools continues to increase. The analytical report on Education in Karnataka, released by the SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, states that the number of English Medium schools has grown almost 1.75 times in the past five years.

The number of English medium schools in 2006-07 was 6,033 and touched 10,647 in 2012-13 academic year. Around 78% of Schools across the state are Kannada Medium, and the other 7% is Urdu Medium Schools.

The highlights of the survey are:

  • English schools form 13.43% of the total number of schools, which is up from 12.72% last year.
  • About 20% of children in the state study in English Medium schools.
  • In past five years, students in Kannada Medium dropped by 9% and rose by 9% in English Medium Schools.
  • Kannada schools decreased to 77.73% from 78.37% in one year.
  • Number of students decreased by 1.36% in Kannada schools.
  • From Primary to Higher Primary and Secondary Education, the number of students in Kannada schools decreases.
  • Insignificant decline in schools with other media of instruction.

Other than the survey by SSA other reports do say a few more details on English medium schools across the state.

With the success of a few government schools adopting English as the medium of instruction last year, more schools have shown interest for the academic year 2013-14 in Udupi district.

Five government schools out of 612 in the district opted for English medium education (for Classes 6, 7 and 8) for 2012-13. That number has increased to 51 for 2013-14.

According to the sources, last year, government schools in Valakad, Hanumanth Nagar, Manooru, Brahmavara and Saibarakatte had adopted English as the medium of instruction and this year, there are proposals from 10 schools in Udupi block, 13 schools in Karkala block, 26 schools in Byndoor block and two schools in Kundapur block.

In these schools, the school development management committees decided to adopt English-medium education as parents were keen their children get good command over the language as it would fetch them a good future.

Moreover, it's important to realise that these figures do not give the true picture as there are a huge number of unrecognised schools on the Indian educational landscape and many of these are English medium schools. A study in Punjab had revealed that about 26 percent of students of the total number enrolled study in unrecognised schools, and these unrecognized schools often have better infrastructure and facilities than government schools.

This is probably true of other states as well, and this means that our researchers and planners are "missing the visible but unseen in their analysis of the current enrolment and their plans to provide education for all."

Why do people prefer to educate their kids in English medium schools?

It's very difficult to answer this question, but I have some theories, and you are welcome to add any. People feel that only English can help their kids do well in life because higher education in India is in English and all employers prefer people who speak English.

Some places have a larger number of good quality English medium schools than vernacular medium schools and parents want the best school for their child. There is a loss of faith in government schools, most of which are not English medium schools.

A large number of Indians in urban areas see English as a good link language in a country where many languages are spoken. They also see English as a global link language. A large number of Indians think that English has become an Indian language, and in fact we have developed our own version of English. They do not think of it as an alien language.

English carries with it some element of snob value and everyone wants to learn it to increase their social status.

Why is there a slower growth in enrolment in English medium schools in some states?

For some reason, people there are not convinced about the economic benefits of English. More people in the north of India see English as an alien language.

This has a historical reason as the northern states bore the brunt the racism practiced by our then British rulers and the "rising of the nationalist movement in the 1920's brought some anti-English sentiment with it."

Thus, the local languages became emotionally associated with nationalism and patriotism and these feelings persist to this day.

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