There is quite some attention for the issue of language in the educational system these days. MHRD, NCERT, the RSS and the Odisha government were all in the news this week.
In the debate about needed educational reforms, the ministry of education takes on the issue of language and the three language formula in particular. Read more in the article: 3rd and foreign language: HRD opens to debate. Quote: "The note also emphasises the importance of "mother tongue-based" education. "While there are some interventions for appointment of language teachers and promotion of classical languages, there is no comprehensive scheme or language policy and we need to have inputs on this dimension," it says."
The press also reports that the Hindu right-wing nationalist organisation RSS made some pro-mothertongue statements : "RSS on Sunday asked the BJP-led Union government and those in states to impart education in the mother tongue of students or constitutionally recognised state languages, saying those educated in a foreign language get "alienated" from their culture and tradition."
In the mean time the Business Standard reports that NCERT held a conference on Inclusion at which multilinguaal education was prominently on the agenda: "The need for inclusion of multilingual education in various courses was among several issues deliberated at a NCERT-organised conference here." (See Conference Brochure).
Last but not at least the Odisha Channel reports on a state level consultation organised by Sikshasandhan in collaboration with Oxfam. As expected a strong support for education of the mothertongue was endorsed.
Outlook reports on language issues in Maoist areas
Outlook reporter explores the language factor in Maoist conflict
Debarshi Dasgupta describes himself as a "media fellow exploring linguistic aspects of the Maoist conflict". In that context he looks at schools and at what language goverenment officials use in Bastar district in Chhattisgarh.
In the artucle Black Chalk on Board, which will appear in this weeks' issue of Outlook, he explores the case of a eight year old boy, Sundar, from the Dhurwi tribe who after three years of schooling still does not understand a word of his teacher's Hindi:
"Sundar is a good example of how a poorly run education system and a blinkered resolve to teach only Hindi at the primary level, can spawn chronic illiteracy amongst the perfectly able. Chhattisgarh's tribal children have ended up being a mute lot, overwhelmed by a language they don't understand and intimidated by non-tribal teachers who take them to task if they use their own."
In the article he builds a strong case for the use of the tribal languages in the class and also discusses some of the citics.
In the aricle Language of the Land he critisizes the government for not making it mandatory for officers working in that region to learn a local language. He contrast that with the Maoist whose leaders do make it a point to use the tribal langiuage:
"It is through dedicated linguistic outreach that the Maoists have accentuated their proximity to adivasis and their faith in the tribal cause. Top commanders have acquired near-native skills in Gondi, spoken widely by marginalised tribals in south Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas. Even those Maoists from other tribal communities, including foot soldiers, have had to learn Gondi. "
"Perception matters a lot in this ongoing battle for minds, and being perceived as unfriendly to tribal languages and cultures is one that continues to cost the state dear in this conflict."
Report on research on reading acquisition in AP and Karnataka
FRAME-India - Final Report
The Facilitating Reading Acquisition in Multilingual Environments in India (FRAME-India) report claims to be the first pre-intervention research for developing a theory of change that is relevant for multilingual learners in the developing world.
The FRAME final report announcement gives a general overview of the research which was conducted in Andra Pradesh and Karnataka and focussed on the interplay between English and the state languages in the class rooms. The report itself is 60 pages and has a nice 3 page Executive Summary in the beginning. Some quotes from the findings:
Lit 1 decoding (i.e., Kannada or Telugu decoding scores) was one of the strongest independent predictors of Lit 2 English decoding, suggesting that for English decoding success, a child must have a certain degree of proficiency in their first literacy
this is the first study that provides an empirical threshold point of approximately 60%, at which Lit 1 decoding ability substantively and significantly increases the likelihood of "transfer" of knowledge to Lit 2 decoding for effective biliteracy outcomes.
Some quotes from the recommandations:
It is important to sequence reading subskills in Lit 1 alphasyllabic and Lit 2 alphabetic languages in ways that are reflective of the scripts, and in a way that incorporates "transfer" of Lit 1 skills for reading gains in both languages.
For improving reading skills in Lit 1 and English, it may be beneficial not to introduce English decoding instruction until the child has achieved the necessary threshold value of Lit 1 decoding skills.