May 31, 2017
Singer Kovan’s latest video which speaks about public Tamil medium schools being overtaken by private English medium ones has been doing its rounds on social media – a point being hotly debated even outside for quite some time now.
A teacher of a Tamil-medium school claimed he was forced to offer incentives to promote his school as the private English-medium schools had taken over and even a daily wage labourer preferred the latter.
Despite globalisation and dissimilarity in languages within the country, there are professionals who believe that mother tongue should be the medium of instruction in schools. Says former Vice-Chancellor of Manormaniam Sundaranar University in Thirunalveli Dr V Vasanthi Devi: “English can be taught as a second language, not as a medium of instruction.” She is unwilling to take the claim that English education gives the child an edge. This is a myth perpetrated by those who have privatised education, she asserts.
“This caters only to the elite families where English is the only language spoken both at home and schools” she adds.
General Secretary of the State Platform for Common School System Prince Gajendra Babu believes that the environment that inculcated in the students of public sector students allows them to critically analyse situations when private school students accept the truth that is given to them by their teachers. “This is called reading and not learning because learning makes you question that which is given to you,” is his reasoning.
Legends like C.V. Raman and Srinivasa Ramanujan were all results of Tamil medium schools and went to places like the UK and the US because they had the capacity of scientific reasoning.
But B. Raghuveeran, former principal of many government and private schools, believes that an English- medium education would only be practical in an application-based world where Tamil cannot take them beyond the State boundaries.
Contradicting this was Dr Devi who cites the example of China to illustrate how it is the public educational system in the native tongue that has provided children there with critical and reasoning capability. “English can be a second language from Standards III or IV, not a medium of instruction,” she warns.
When the two others were confronted by Raghuveeran’s argument about the incompetency of public school educationalists and the infrastructure there, Prince Babu blamed it on pedagogy failure, not just in public schools but private ones too.
Devi, on the other hand, says that while at least 7 per cent of the national wealth must be focused on education, only 3 per cent is actually used. “It is also important to remember that while our media likes to boast of our prowess, we are compatible only with Sub-Saharan countries in our contribution towards education of our citizens”.