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`English must be taught from first standard in govt. schools'

Staff Reporter

Seminar opposes depriving children of the poor of the opportunity



LANGUAGE DEBATE: G. Ramakrishna (left); K.R. Nagaraj, literary critic; and A. Laxmisagar, convener, Social Justice Forum (right), at a seminar on `Backward castes, Dalits, minorities and learning English,' in Bangalore on Saturday. — Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

BANGALORE: A seminar on "Backward castes, Dalits, minorities and learning English" has emphasised the sociological, psychological and economic need to teach English as a language in government schools from first standard.

The seminar, organised by the Social Justice Forum here on Saturday, also pointed out some shortcomings in the demand that children should not be taught English until they reach third standard. It also clarified that it is not against the interests of Kannada.

`Contradictions in policy'

The noted Kannada writer and Professor of English in Bangalore University, Nataraj Huliyar, said contradictions in the education policy and the rich-poor and urban-rural divide are working against the interests of students from the backward classes and other poor communities, including Dalits.

Students from the underprivileged sections of society are under the "illusion that English is the dominant cultural language."

Considering various aspects of the educational system and societal requirements, it is impossible to deny that perspective, he said.

Teaching English from third standard in government schools deprives children of the poor from learning a vital language and competing with children studying in private schools.

He clarified that those who have been demanding that the Government introduce English from first standard are not against the mother tongue as the medium of instruction.

The former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Agricultural Sciences, S. Bisalaiah, argued that the question as to from which class English should be taught is directly related to employment opportunities and related areas.

The issue should be viewed from a historical perspective. Many in society do not want the children of "socially and economically undermined" people to learn English for the same reasons they were once denied access to Sanskrit.

In the light of the marketing value of education and the role of the English language in gaining philosophical and empirical knowledge, English should be taught from first standard in the interests of social justice, he said.

The former Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs A. Laxmisagar, the noted Kannada literary critic Ki. Rum. Nagaraja and the veteran journalist V.T. Rajashekar spoke.

The noted writer Mamtaz Ali Khan presided over the seminar.

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