Sunday, July 17, 2011

Who wants us to be illiterate? - English medium Vs regional medium

 There's a joke which is as follows:
"British came to India and spoiled our country many years ago. We are spoiling their language everyday."

No offense please. I don't intent to degrade any Indian for not knowing a language. But my intention is to bring to the attention of people, a very ugly disease most of the parents have got. English medium mania! When I say English medium, I don't mean the medium of instruction being English, but a different set of schools.


What is English medium?

Till some years back, I was under the impression that English medium just meant the medium of instruction which one chose in school. As a student who had English as the instruction medium, I had never thought the other way round. But the difference doesn't actually lie in the medium, but in the syllabus; i.e, whether you are following state syllabus or CBSE or any other syllabus. It so happens that poor people like me studied state syllabus in English! :)

I don't know how to put it; if this seems to be abrupt, please forgive, me, I want to write many many things at once. But let me start with my own example. As I said, I was a state syllabus student, who used to score decently and all, but the thing is, when you are in state syllabus, you have both the English and the regional mediums. But in other boards, everything except language is in English! Not only that. There are many schools where you follow state syllabus and there will be both mediums, but the school strictly follows state board only; like my school where I did my high school and higher secondary; others where you have all boards and no regional language medium. [I'm strictly pertaining to high school for the time being, because if I describe my schooling till UP, it will take lots of time.]

So it happens that when a syllabus revision was made in my state, most of the students were changed from state syllabus to CBSE, for fear that the change will destroy their future! [I can't comment much on this, because it happened roughly after my schooling only.] There's always a belief that "English medium schools" are better than "ordinary schools" (no matter how old and established they are; I've two schools in my town,one more that 100 years old and one more than 90 years old, which includes my own school), even if these so called hi-fi "EM" schools have been established just like the mashroom in the last rain! I don't understand this psychology. What is so special about these schools? Can anybody give me an answer about that? Wherever you study, the content you study will be the same! Science, and history are not going to change! Only language text book changes. For all who have a point on this, I'll just say that the English syllabus which I learned from my 6th-10th in Kerala state syllabus is awesome. There are too many good things about those text books which I can write. But as an example I'll just tell about what abstracts they used to put in them. I will confidently say that, had I never learned those texts, I would never have developed any taste towards searching and reading English books (especially classics). 

If English is your concern, then just tell me what is so special about it? Its just another language! A language which can be used for communication just like any other language! Or is it the culture that you are bothered about? Then please tell me how you define culture. Does culture involve just wearing shoes+tie+socks+belt+ whatever other parts your EM school uniform require? Truly speaking I was much relieved to go high school because, till them I used to study in EM schools (not the horrible ones like these days, they were very nice schools, especially the one where I did my UP school) where I had to wear this painful uniform of shoes+socks+tie+belt, which I hated like anything. (Luckily I was never in a school which demanded its students to braid their hair into two and tie up pink/white/green ribbons (there are such schools even if they are not EM schools and follow state syllabus); such a pian!)  How relieved I felt after being in hight school! No shoes, no socks, no tie, no belt, only blue and white uniform everyday. :) Did my standard reduce because of that? Did my achievements in life become less because of that? Did, being in state syllabus close my opportunities in my life? Anybody who knows me personally can answer these questions.

Then I assume that its the problem with the ego of parents, it has not changed after these many years, I think it has only increased. What is so special about your child studying in an English medium school? Is your social status elevated by your poor child (who is forced to put all these junk dress (we can spare mountain areas) in this tropical country through which 23 degree latitude passes) studying in an English medium school? There are good govt schools or govt aided schools out there. Why can't you put your child in that school? Or are you a victim of the idea that sarkaar school are only for the poor and the dumb? Are you so afraid of accepting your financial status that you are ready to take loans to meet the unnecessary demands (like special uniform for special days and you can't stitch the uniform, it has to be done only through the school) made by these new schools? Or do you want to make up for the social status which you couldn't attain (that status should be defined by the person himself/herself), that you dream to show off a lot in front of others by telling "look, my kid is in English medium"? If so then you are doing a huge atrocity towards your kid and the future generation.

I once happened to hear form one of my friends that in their coaching center they were told that CBSE students were smarter than students who were in  state syllabus! If I get the person who told this, in front of me, I would like to ask him/her some questions:

1) Are you a good teacher?
2) Why are you practicing racism?
3)Were you in CBSE? If you weren't and if you were a state syllabus student, are you desperate because of that the fact that you became a coach at an entrance coaching centre other than becoming somebody else? If so, its not the fault of the syllabus and you should not pass such foolish ideas to students. 

[Actually I want to slap that fellow, for telling such stupid things to students who are teenagers and thus making them degrade themselves. Such people should not teach anybody. :-x]

I don't understand how can anybody make such an awful remark! Worse than this, I've heard people telling that those who studied in English medium can handle English better than those who were in regional mediums! Common yaar, its not true. I know many people who speak/write bad English, despite being instructed in English all throughout their schooling! As I said its just another language, and like any other language, it ought to be studied properly. Then only will one be able to handle it well. Ofcourse I can tell whether a person (a Malayali) was in English medium or Malyalam medium by the way in which they speak English, but how does it matter? There are millions of people around the world, who don't even speak English! [In that way Indians should be proud of themselves. Even in rural areas, people can communicate with bits and pieces of what they know. See I said rural area; how many EM schools are there in a typical rural area in India? Infact I once saw a man, whom most of the stylish EM worshipers would have laughed at, speaking very good English and that man did the most unlikely job anybody could imagine, (if my memory is correct) he burns dead bodies in Varanasi, and I saw him in a documentary in Discovery or NG. How did he learn to speak such good English? Was he in an EM school? He didn't look like a rich man, and definitely looked like one who would have had to face lots of hurdles in life.]

CBSE schools are necessary for parents with transferable jobs. Ok. Fine. People who are forced by situations go to such schools. But why despise state syllabus? Why make fun of it? Why make excuses like 90% in state = 75% in CBSe or other syllabus? See the student who scored 90% in state didn't score it with mere luck or with the help of the grader's mercy or cheating of any sort. He/she did so by working hard only. And you should accept that. Its not like this syllabus is better and this is worse. These sort of racism in education is unacceptable.

I want to point out one incident about which I heard, at this point. There is a provision by India GOVT, where poor students' education will be financed fully by the GOVT, schools should follow this , by admitting poor students into schools and providing education. A principal in one famous school in a city sent letter to all the parents in that school (obviously it is one school where rich people's kids study) telling that all poor students are KDs and dumb and will disrupt the peaceful environment of the class where their brilliant and good kids study and so all parents had to protest against admitting such students! Isn't it pure racism? And that too coming from a principal (I don't know whether the principal was just a puppet in the hands of the management this thing)?

Its high time that we re-evaluated the standards of the schools where our children study. I remember reading Stephen Hawking's biography. The best thing he said had happened to him was that he happened to study at a very ordinary,lovely, not hi-fi school in his childhood. I agree completely with it. Because the best thing that happened to me was that I was always in schools which gave enough freedom and space for a person to develop, when I was very young. I'm thankful to my parents (especially my father) who never put me in jailer schools and brought me up as an ordinary student. I hope parents now also will do the same; give some space to the kids to breath, dream and imagine.

"Give them some shunshine
Give them some ray"

So that they won't say

"I wanna grow up once again."


  1. Dear Lakshmi,

    Fine. I read your bit lengthy article. I agree with many of your points. But, What is your ultimate end point is to send the kid to sarkar school right?
    See, I agree with showcasing techniques of private schools(Matric, Anglo indian or cbsc whatever). It is the right time to change these different kinds of education system which makes racism. It is established that Anglo - indian, CBSE, Matric and finally state board in ranking. This should be changed first. A common relevant, bearable and necessary education system. Overload for kids should be completely avoided. Equal importance should also given to sports(Most of the so called good schools does not encourage sports. ofcourse the state board student rocks in sports in many cases except scatting like Hi-Fi games.). Even though the education is under central government, I dont understand why they dont think to unit the stydents through common syllabus. Does the rich people's kids are born brilliant and the poor people's kids are born poor?

    However may be my poor writing - I think you could get my point.

  2. Thank you for the comment.
    My point is as follows:
    Children can be sent to any schools.
    If I say as parents prefer, there'll be a catch, since many parents wrongly choose schools just for the sake of them being the so called English mediums, and its always parents who choose schools and not children.

    You should have a central same syllabus, for parents with transferable jobs and have to roam around all the country, to avoid the student's confusion. But one should never underestimate a state syllabus or an "ordinary school". See most of the Indians are common people and not so wealthy. Right? Its a criminal offense to deny a child's education in the name of money and that is what is occurring right from school level to higher education level here. People should respond against these things.

  3. And Moreover, people who complain about the standards of GOVT schools please hear this story. There's one LP school near to my home and as everybody can imagine, it didn't have a proper irrigation system and they used to come to our home to fetch water at times, when municipality water was not working. There was a very big, but unused well in the compound, which was sort of abandoned for many years. But in 1999, they revived the well, put a motor in it, put a water tank too and thus solved their water shortage. And this didn't happen without the help of the many people including the parents of students in that school. There are still students studying in that school, (very unfortunately very low in number), I can't dream of a day when that school won't work. There's another school which was closed due to lack of students, (there were only 2 students!). This is pathetic. When children are sent to the so called Hi-Fi schools,they lose their chance to grow up knowing their own locality or nature. I grew up knowing all these. That's why I stand for these.