Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Mother tongue instruction

There are people who say children should be taught in their mother tongue. Many of them send their children to English medium schools. Mother tongue instruction is for ordinary children. English instruction is for their children.
India is a country of many languages. It is not possible for each child to have instruction in its mother tongue. As per census 2001, 60 languages were spoken by 1,00,000 or more people. As per census 2011, 122 languages were spoken by 1,00,000 or more people. Total number of languages spoken in India varies from 780 t0 1,652. There are 66 scripts in India. Some mother tongues considered languages by some are considered dialects by others.
Some states have made learning state language compulsory. Some states want state language as medium of instruction. Many parents want their children to attend English medium schools. In colleges medium of instruction is mostly English. Students from vernacular mediums find switch to English medium difficult. Job prospects are bleak for those who have college education in state language.
Students who have mother tongue different from state language are unable to have education in their mother tongue. In big cities it is not possible to have instruction to each child in its mother tongue. In a class there can be 50 students each with a different mother tongue. In Bombay there were many Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Urdu and other language schools. Their number has come down over the years.
Many go abroad for jobs. Many get jobs in information technology sector due to knowledge of English. Job is important.
It is good to observe 21 February as International Mother Language Day. However most people do not have their mother tongue as medium of instruction and many of those who have opt for English. In many families English has become mother tongue.

Updated: February 21, 2018 — 6:30 pm

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