– Sukanya Nandy
Parents of a Bangalore-based CISCE affiliated school are preparing to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Karnataka High Court against the state government’s mandatory order of studying Kannada as a second language. Children who had chosen Hindi/Spanish/ Sanskrit or any other regional or foreign language, will now have to study Kannada as second language instead. Meanwhile, the second language will be treated as third language.
Concerned parents raised questions stating that it will affect their grades when they appear for board exams, with majority of them coming from non- Kannada speaking backgrounds.
A parent, whose son studies in class 4 at the school says, “Majority of students in the school have Hindi as second language and very few opted for Telegu, Kannada and Malayalam and Spanish. By default, children who took Hindi or foreign languages as second language, have Kannada as third language.
However, less than two months ago, we received a circular from the school stating that Kannada has been made as the second language mandatorily by the state government. When we received the letter, we all panicked because it is not possible – how will they learn a new language as second language? That would be difficult. Kannada is a completely new language for them. We parents had this concern and wanted to speak to the school management. The school principal then informed us that it is as per the directive of the state government. When we asked that Kannada is already being studied as a third language, why make it a mandatory second language, thus crushing their mother language? The principal said that the syllabus will remain, just the names will change. But how is that justified as students are learning basics in Kannada while for Hindi and foreign languages, they are in advanced level. How can you make an advanced language as a third language and say that it does not have any value?”
Sujatha Suresh, RTE task force member and a parent says, “This was made mandatory in 2015. But many schools even today, they have not made it compulsory. The education department has failed to follow it up. Some schools have implemented last year while some have implemented this year. Apart from not implementing on the right age for a child to learn – if you are not teaching the language at the right age, it is very difficult for the difficult for the children. Secondly, when we are talking about the rights of the Constitution, every child has a right to choose what he or she wants to learn.”
As per the rule, third language is only studied till class 8. “If a student of 4th standard is studying Kannada as second language and learning only the basics, what value will remain if they learn only basics?,” asks a parent. He adds, “The government has also given leverage to the international schools that Kannada is not mandatory for them. They are free to learn whatever they want. Even Frank Anthony School is continuing with Hindi as second language.
For first standard children, making Kannada as a second language is fine but for students of 4th and 5th standard, it’s difficult for them to make the transition. Outside Karnataka, Kannada will have no value. ”
Some parents even have transferable jobs. “If next year, someone’s parent shift out of the state, maybe to Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu, will the kid learn a Kannada their as a second language?” the parents question. They will have to choose whichever language is given priority in the region. “This way their language will never be strong,” says a parent.
Sujatha Suresh adds that parents would like to choose whichever language they want, be it Hindi or some foreign language, considering the career aspect of the child. “If a child has studied Kannada here till 5th standard and moves to another city and joins 6th standard with Hindi, won’t the child struggle to learn the language? When the government is doing something like this, they should make it child-friendly, which will help them.”
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