English First !?

English First!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For any country aspiring to be an economic superpower needs excellent education system and the cause of worry is that India lacks exactly in the same thing. Around 40% children in India especially girls never complete their primary education. Education is a topic very close to my heart so I have decided to devote a blog to it.

Chotu is a boy who works in the Hotel near my house. Every evening he comes to my house to watch movies on cable. Since our TV is free that time none of us mind. Seldomly even I sit with him to watch movies. I was astonished to see that he has seen almost evry movies that comes on Zee Cenema or Filmy and even few english movies on AXN. He remembers even the finest details which being an movie lover even I cant recollect. His little mind is full of the things they show in movies those fights, romance, tragedy and super natural things. He has not even gone to 1st std. but he does not regret it. Today he is 14 serving tea and samosa’s i nthe dirtiest hotel in my neighbourhood and movies is the only thing that perhaps stimulates his brain and makes him think. It is not difficult for me to understand that he perhaps tries to relate his life to the life shown in movies.

I remembered my childhood when I hardly got any chance to see many movies. One reason was we had only doordarshan and second reason was that I had to study. I use to see at the most 1 movies per month and never remembered the story.

What I am trying to say here is that when you are a kid in 1st std. whatever you see and hear makes a huge impact on your life. What skills you develop in your life largely depends on your childhood learning. Compared to america or britain the quality of primary education in India is bad that we cant even cosidered it as education. It is a process that makes student hate learning and even if they learn what they learn hardly helps them in life. The teaching methods are antiqued and education gets low priority in rural areas.

I happy that some initiatives by recent governments and involvment of corporates has been responsible to change this scenario to a very large extent but still ‘Dilli abhi door hai’. What I have noticed with our system is that we lack in a clear idea of ‘Education’ and the whole ‘purpose of education’. The way any company determines its vision and goal I feel even the education department should determine the vision and goal of the education system in the country. Since there is no clear idea what education is meant for there is no firm and illustartive policy about how to achieve the goal and carry forward the vision. At the most our education ministry sets the goal of educating some 2-3 million kids but I dont feel that is the goal.

British introduced a systematic and centralized education system to India. The goal was to provide a pool of human resource for running various government agencies by training the locals for that work. There were much wider political motives as well. Education will open some new (but limited) horizons for the Indians resulting into increasing their faith in British goverment. That was the plan and it was well studied and executed. When we got independence I feel the government should have revised the whole purpose of education in India. The government lacked the forsight to do so and no one bothered also.

The same syllabus and same methods were continued which created only bunch of clerks every year. People who had extra ordinary talents in mathematics wasted it in calculating balance sheets. Dear friends you may not agree with me but the education system has not changed much over years. We are only creating clerks every year.

Every minister has his own opinions about education and no sane person has the authority to question them. The clerk mentality is so much wide spread that almost every body agrees to the minister and executes his decision.

The recent decision in our state was to make English a compulsary subject right from 1st standard. For which a set of textbooks are published which are of very hight standards it seems. This word ‘high’ is relative to the quality of american or european textbooks. When I read the third standard english textbook I did feel that it could have been a US textbook. The flowers mentioned in books were never heard of nor they are found in Goa.

I think its good that government has learnt importance of english and has willingness to improve english of an average Indian student. However it should not happen by killing our own regional languages which are very advanced and also have the power of expression like any other language. Instead of taking an decisive stance of this issue it would have been better if the government had done a deep study about how the english of students can be improved without hampering the growth of regional languages. There should have been a long term policy not only about the textbooks but also about empowering village and school libraries with quality english literature. With my personal experience I can say that english can be improved only through conversation and articultaion. The current syllabus do not feature both these things sufficiently. In short I feel government lacks vision and plan to enrich the knowledge of english in Indian students. Also a possibility to play regional and religious politics can not be ignore fully.

If we take example of china (chinese is the worlds largest spoken language) their government has striked good balance between english and chinese. Chinese people are everywhere and they take their language everywhere in the world. The world respects them because of this and they have created their own identity. However that is rarely the case with Indians especially when language is concerned.

Thanks to Nandakumar Kamat prof. in Goa University who enlightned me through his article in local news paper that a kid between 3 to 7 is capable of learning as many languages as it is exposed to even 10 is not a large number. However after that the ability to learn a new language is reduced. Parents may note this.

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