Thus spake Prof. BKC on role of English language in Primary Schools
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Thus spake Prof. BKC on role of English language in Primary Schools

Sir,

This refers to the report on ‘Role of English in Primary Education’ published in SOM dated Apr.25 on Page-12.

At the inaugural meeting of Alumni Association of Maharaja’s College, I spoke of my Cabinet Note for discussion in the Cabinet on how to introduce English as a functional language to students, especially from rural background. My proposal was as follows:

  1. To teach English using words and the objects that the words referred to; example: Station, Post Office, ‘Railu’ (Train), ‘Doctru’ (Doctor), ‘Banku’ (Bank), ‘Bussu’ (Bus), etc. In an important survey that was conducted by the RIE, it was found that about 90 English words were used ‘most frequently’ by children and adults in the villages; about 140 words less frequently. Children would easily construct whole sentences out of these words. This way, they were able to speak   English sentences.
  2. Even with this easy and functional approach to the language, I had suggested introduction of English language only from class 3 and not earlier. No text book either until after class 3.
  3. Grammatical English was to be taught from class 4 or 5.
  4. Most important: No annual or any examination in English for 3 years; it simply meant that rural kids didn’t have to fear failure in the examination.

It is terribly important for me to emphasise here that there was never any discussion about English as medium of instruction, contrary to Karnataka’s policy of mother-tongue as medium in the primary stage.

My Cabinet Note was in conformity with our official policy on medium of instruction in addition to my own (informed) conclusion that the student’s mother-tongue is most effective in learning at least in the first 4 years.

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– Prof. B.K. Chandrashekar (BKC), Former Minister, Bengaluru, 28.4.2017

April 30, 2017

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