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Karnataka: Private schools criticise NEP 2020 position paper on languages

July 13, 2022

Private schools in Karnataka have rejected the state government’s NEP 2020 position paper on teaching of languages/ medium of instruction and have urged the BJP government to desist from imposing language/medium of instruction policy on unaided private schools.

Position papers of the NEP 2020 authored by a committee chaired by Dr Ajakkala Girisha Bhat, have proposed to make mother tongue/ regional language/ Kannada the medium of instruction from the foundational level up to class 5 in all schools, and wherever “children don’t know above languages, English may be used in addition to the above languages for teaching”. However, the same authors also state that over 70 languages are spoken across the state.

The Association of Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools of Karnataka (KAMS) has raised objections on the grounds that it violates fundamental rights of citizens and ignores an important verdict of the apex court which allows parents and children to choose the medium of instruction in primary school. In 2014, the Supreme Court had held that the right to choose a medium of instruction is implicit in the fundamental right to education and that it is the fundamental right of parent and child to choose the medium of instruction.

“The Position Paper on Language Education is prepared by overlooking the law of the land, the order passed in light of the Constitution Bench decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of Karnataka & Anr. v. Associated Management of (Government Recognised Unaided English medium) Primary and Secondary Schools & Ors. [AIR 2014 SC 2094]. Is not referred or tried once again suppressing the fact, it is in violation of Article 141 of the Constitution and is bordering contempt,” KAMS has written in a complaint to chief minister Basavaraj Bommai.

KAMS has also written that the committee failed in knowing and understanding the landmark judgment which was delivered after hearing in length and breathe with respect to various aspects of the constitution including Article 21 of the Constitution, the right to freedom of speech and expression, Article 26 under which educational institutions can be established and managed and that no citizen shall be denied admission to an educational institution only on the ground of language as stated in Article 29(2) of the Constitution of India.

“The Government policy introducing Kannada as first language to the children whose mother tongue is Kannada is valid. The policy that all children, whose mother tongue is not Kannada, the official language of the State, shall study the Kannada language as one of the subjects is also valid. The Government policy to have mother tongue or regional language as the medium of instruction at the primary level is valid and legal, in the case of schools run or aided by the State. The Government policy compelling children studying in other government recognised schools to have primary education only in the mother tongue or regional language is violative of Article 19 (1) (g), 26 and 30 (1) of the Constitution of India,” the letter reads asking the government not to impose a medium of instruction in private unaided schools. 

Also read: Bilingual teaching proposed, Kannada mandatory: NEP position papers

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