With the Karnataka government under its National Education Policy (NEP 2020) implementation plan mandating that undergraduate degree students in the state need to study Kannada as one of the languages, college lecturers teaching other languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Kodava, Tulu or Urdu have expressed fears that this diktat will put their jobs in jeopardy.
On August 25 Karnataka became the first state in the country to implement the NEP 2020. Under its NEP 2020 implementation, the state government has decreed that undergrad students need to learn two languages with Kannada language mandatory. Higher ed faculty in the state believe that most students are most likely to choose English as the second language, rendering several regional language teachers jobless.
Dr. Shridhara Bhat, professor and HOD, SDM College (Autonomous), Ujjire, says that Karnataka’s implementation of the language learning recommendations of NEP 2020 goes against the basic tenets of the policy. “The idea in NEP 2020 is to give students the freedom to choose any Indian language. If Kannada is made mandatory, students are bound to choose English as the other language. The NEP preamble talks about familiarizing students with our culture and studying ancient scriptures. If they cannot study Sanskrit even if they wish, is it possible to achieve that goal?Karnataka has 484 government degree colleges. Out of this, just eight or nine offer Sanskrit as a subject while 15 offer Hindi. What will students who have not studied English as a major subject do now? If Hindi, Sanskrit or Urdu is not an option, they will be forced to study English. Gradually, the jobs of several hundreds of lecturers will be at stake because of this,” he says.
Representations have been sent from lecturers to various MLAs and MLCs. The Karnataka State Universities’ Colleges Hindi Professors Association has also made a representation to the Karnataka governor Thawar Chand Gehlot highlighting this problem. “The NEP talks about understanding and learning Indian literature. We encourage learning Kannada. But making Kannada mandatory is against the basic idea of giving a student’ liberty to choose her subjects. Parents are bound to encourage students to choose English as the second subject because of its relevance and importance internationally. Other Indian languages like Hindi or Sanskrit will be ignored,” says Dr S Manjunath, president of the association.
Of the 1,500 degree college lecturers, only 200 are permanent faculty. “We are not opposing learning Kannada. In fact, Kannada is the mother tongue for most Hindi lecturers. But let the option to choose their subjects rest with students,” adds Manjunath.
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