Thursday, September 03, 2009

Why has English become a necessity?

I came across this wonderful article on Mint and it's a must read.

Freedom to study: Anil Sadgopal

“I will take this chit, take a bus straight to Rashtrapati Bhavan and ask the President why we ever fought for our independence when I don’t even have the freedom to study in my mother tongue.”
he had said when he was being denied admission to St Stephen's College, Delhi, apparently because he had studied in a Hindi-medium school.

But, our preoccupation with the language continues. It crops up everywhere, ever so often...

The first thing the NGO person said was, "Hamare bachchon ko English nahi aati. Aap bas unhe English sikha dijiye."

"Our children don't know English. You just teach them English..."

He said a lot other things, in a tone I disapproved of, of how pathetic the kids were in the said language.

So, the emphasis was English... And I wondered why, for the students of an Urdu medium school, should English be imposed with such a fanatic reverence.

The students who came up for the class were indeed extremely weak. The attendance has dropped as days have passed, but one Class V student is persistent.

I have taken a special liking for this girl because she turns up regularly two days a week, with her books and pens and sits expectantly. She struggles to read basic English words like his, this, with, that, the, is. Her face cringes with effort to recollect a correct meaning, to pronounce w-i-t-h and yet, she labours on.

The first time she began reading, she spelt out each single letter- I-- T--- IT, H--I--S HIS and so on. In this manner, reading one and a half paragraph took one and half hours... Also, her writing is all jumbled up, with no space between different words. I am basically a lazy person, but if I have stuck to this class for one month now, it is because of this girl.

I wonder how she was promoted to class V without being able to read that, when, why, what or know what these words mean.

What her teachers do in class? Do they eat from the children's tiffins and polish their nails? (A very smart girl in Pune indeed told me this. "I left the Zilla Parishad school because the teacher doesn't teach there. She eats from our tiffins and paints her nails in class."

I have digressed. Lax education system in our country is not a matter of debate anyway. It is a taken fact.

The thing that disturbs me is our preoccupation with English. Take Japan for example, the country has excelled beyond excellence without being crippled by English.

In India, English has somehow become irrevocably linked with the confidence and job prospects of a student. It has become a standard benchmark to judge capabilities.
I remember my parents, who struggled with the language and often felt snubbed because of their inability to speak 'posh English'. The idea that English is the only way to surge ahead has somehow taken deep roots. This mindset, coupled with the pathetic tribe of teachers, is set to ruin our country.

Related Post: Speak Correct, O Really?