New Education Policy: Focus on local language flayed by stakeholders

Updated: Jul 31, 2020, 07:27 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

The new education policy's many aspects has parents, teachers and experts divided; local language for instruction at younger stages stokes major debate

The new National Education Policy unveiled on Wednesday seeks to emphasise learning in regional language
The new National Education Policy unveiled on Wednesday seeks to emphasise learning in regional language

At a time when English medium schools have become the new norm especially in urban setups, the new National Education Policy (NEP) announced by the Central government on Wednesday suggested focusing on the mother-tongue or local language as the teaching medium for a child's first five years of education.

While many have criticised the new policy saying it will restrict the exposure children get, some experts said that the focus must be on ease of communication at a younger age. At the same time, society as diverse as India has classes with children belonging to different regions and thus distinct mother tongues.

However, the fact that early childhood education is finally being acknowledged as formal education has been welcomed by many. Swati Popat Vats, president of the Early Childhood Association (ECA) said, "We are very glad that the foundation years of education are finally being recognised as formal education. We have been fighting for it for so long. This will certainly show a positive impact in the future."

Swati Popat Vats, president  of the Early Childhood  Association (ECA)
Swati Popat Vats, president of the Early Childhood Association (ECA)

Over the language debate, Vats said, "There's a difference between instruction and education. A school may be an English medium one but a teacher's instructions may vary as per the age of the child. For example, at a very young age, when a child begins school, he/she may not have an alternative in English for each word. So the teacher can be flexible and try to communicate with the child in his/her mother-tongue. Not only will this make the child comfortable, but it will also help ease that child into the English language."

Also read: National Education Policy Introduced: Key Features Explained

Anubha Sahai of India Wide Parents' Association, however, said that choice of medium will lead to "losing uniformity and parents' right to freely choose the medium of school for a child." She said, "There are so many non-Marathi speaking people in Maharashtra so clearly the local language cannot be implemented. Secondly, there are multiple mother-tongues; each class can have children having seven different mother-tongues making it impossible to choose one language." Sahai added that the NEP completely ignores the importance of having one regulatory body for school education which has a huge range now from Nursery (3 years of age) to Class XII (16 years of age).

Anubha Sahai of India Wide Parents’ Association
Anubha Sahai of India Wide Parents’ Association

"Right now, the national-level policy is out and there are several positive points to it like the recognition of early childhood education," said Rohan Bhat, chairman of the Children's Academy Group of schools. It is, however, important to wait and see how different state governments implement it, he added.

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