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New “mother tongue” education policy in India

At the end of the July, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a new national educational policy of using the “mother tongue” or “local language” in primary schools, rather than English, “where possible”.

Opposition Congress Party spokesman Dr Sharma Mohamed argued that English gave India, “an edge over other countries in employability.”

While the announcement avoided mentioning the Hindi language (India’s other official language) by name, the policy is thought to appeal to voters in the ‘Hindi heartland’ of north India, who make up the base of Modi’s ruling BJP party.

‘Local languages,’ many of which have tens of millions of speakers, include the myriad official languages of India’s 28 states, to whom responsibility for education is to a large extent devolved.

In south India in particular, education is in the local language or English, with the states historically ignoring – or defying – instructions front the government in New Delhi to teach in Hindi.

The ‘mother tongue’ or ‘local language’ policy, is part of a national effort to shake up education, including devoting an extra six per cent of GDP for education nationally, and removing some of the pressure placed on exams for 16 and 18 year olds.

Image courtesy of PIXABAY
Matt Salusbury
Matt Salusbury
MATT SALUSBURY, news editor and journalist, has worked for EL Gazette since 2007. He is also joint Chair of the London Freelance Branch of the National Union of Journalists and co-edits its newsletter, the Freelance. He taught English language for 15 years in the Netherlands, in Turkey, in a North London further education college and now as an English for Academic Purposes tutor, most recently at the London School of Economics. He is a native English speaker and is also fluent in Dutch.
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