It is clear that education through mother tongue facilitates all round development of the child. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Head of the Language for Small Children in Temple University, Philadelphia, says that mother tongue plays a vital role in teaching small children and it has a permanent influence upon children. When they start going to school, they recall the words they could listen and deposit in their mind in the form of a code. As they gain experience, they begin associating these codes with the things around them. Then the stage to speak begins. From the age of 11 to 12 months, children can reproduce words which they have learnt from their mothers.
The researchers from the North-Western University working on Children’s mind have found out that children even before speaking possess ability to associate words with things. By the age of 41/2 months, though they do not speak, they react promptly and have ability to recognise things just listening words from their mothers. This is what we call ‘Mother Tongue’. It is now left to fathers to engage children in more and more talking. By reaching 3 years of age, they are able to speak in a sentence and its meaning. The children who are talkative possess higher I.Q. When they go to school and learn in the mother tongue, they find spontaneous flow of language, recalling what they heard from their mothers. So one can see that a child through its mother tongue feels confident and no hindrance in learning. The best examples we give of China, Japan and many European countries where higher education and technical education is imparted through mother tongue.
Our country, India is unique. There are about 164 languages and 344 dialects. Surely it presents unity in diversity. In this vast country, Urdu, except Kashmir, has no home of its own. The people who speak Urdu are spread over it in the East, in the West, in the North and the South but their percentage does not go beyond 2 or 3 or at in some limited areas 15 to 20%.
The people who speak Urdu are not named after it; as the Bengalese are the people who speak Bengali; the Marathas are those who speak Marathi; the Punjabis are those speaking Punjabi. Yet it must be admitted that Urdu is a popular, developed language rich in literature and technology.
The Central Government aims at providing technical education in regional languages. Prior to it, the New Education Policy aims at providing education through (regional language) mother tongue up to VI class. The NCERT has prepared syllabi in regional languages. Even the syllabi for Class XII have also been prepared in regional language (mother tongue).
A report says that the Government proposes to impart technical education through mother tongue. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTI) plans to provide technical education through Urdu, Assamese and Malayalam. It should be noted that the VIII Schedule of the Constitution has provision to impart education through mother tongue. Urdu is also included in this list.
At present the education of BUMS is given through Urdu. Its complete syllabi are in Urdu. No doubt, the Urdu speaking students are being benefited and practising satisfactorily. Readers may be well aware of the fact that BUMS courses are in Urdu, Persian and Arabic. It has been a rich source for Unani medicine for centuries. Urdu knowing students, moulvis and ‘alims and fazils from madrasas and Jamias are taking great advantage of it. Now the Government is planning to change its medium to English. It will mar the position of Tibbiya College of Aligarh Muslim University and also others. The beneficiaries of these courses will be at great disadvantage, resulting the end of centuries old Unani medicine.
The Government has taken decision to provide education through local language (mother tongue) and moving towards establishing AICTI. NCERT has prepared syllabi in mother tongue (local language) and giving hopes that this experiment is successful. But contrary to this, Government is replacing mother tongue by English. So far as I find there is mushroom-growth of English medium schools. Many parents are of the opinion that by providing local language (mother tongue) they may not be able to take their children to the desired destination.
The public trend towards Engineering education will tread upon institutions like Bhabha Research Centre, IIT Centre and ISRO. People think that their children who study in these institutions will find no opportunity in seeking jobs in European and Arab countries. At present the students who have passed these courses are a source of prosperity by working abroad. But getting engineering education through mother tongue foresee a dark future. What to say of foreign countries, in our own country they will find it hard to secure some job.
This dual policy of promoting English medium schools and side by side encouraging mother tongue under its New Education Policy will harbour our children nowhere. Our government should realise this. The sooner, the better.
Let’s look at an example: in West Bengal High School madrasa education has reached its apex. Now the Government is changing it into model madrasa. Till now, in Cooch Bihar, Maldah, Murshidabad, Birbhoom, South Dinajpur, Nadia, Madnipur, Burdwan, Calcutta (South & North), 24 Pargana Dini education is being imparted through English medium. Hitherto Deeni Taleem is given in Arabic and State language. The students and parents feel very much happy over this change of medium to English! But what the Government intends is hard to guess. Education through mother tongue, state language on the one hand and education through Vernacular language is creating a lot of dilemma. The whole nation is being ground between two grinding slabs.
The Hindustan Times has given a thorough analysis on the subject.
The Madhya Pradesh government introduced the concept of teaching engineering in Hindi for students who could not comprehend English. Two years ago, 19-year-old Rakesh Lodhi took admission in the undergraduate engineering course in Hindi at Attal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University, Bhopal, He hoped that English would be no hurdle. Lodhi pursued his course in chaste Hindi with the help of few contractual teachers in the University and completed the first year (B.Tech). Now the University has decided to discontinue the course from the next academic year as it faced inadequate faculty, inappropriately translated syllabus and books. The tuition fee was less than half of what is charged in private colleges i.e. Rs. 11,000. The University has as well discontinued 70 other courses for which there were no takers in the past six years. The administrative department of the University said the decision was taken due to poor response from candidates as they are not sure of their future having studied in Hindi. Anil Saumitra, the communication cell in-charge of BJP, says that the University failed to attract students due to dearth of basic facilities.
The Vice-Chancellor Ramdev Bhardwaj said, “Before introducing any course, we need proper infrastructure, qualified teachers and books and this is possible only with funds. We get Rs. 3.75 crore per year which is not enough.”
This decision, however, has hit the students hard. Nine students were compelled to shift to a private college. Of them 7 have rather decided to discontinue. Lodhi said: “I can’t go back home without the degree. My parents have died and my brother is taking care of me.”
The students pursuing Engineering courses through Urdu medium may face the same problems. This is clear that the New Education Policy of the Government is not successful. I also contradict this policy. But let it not lead you to think that I am anti-Urdu. I rather appeal to the readers to analyse the facts with open mind.
Recent surveys reveal that when the students who have studied through state language, reach the college, they are confronted with English. All lectures and books are in English. I wonder why AICTI has failed to provide colleges with books in mother tongue.
The state of West Bengal is same. The number of students dropouts is on increase when they reach colleges. This shows that the New Education Policy is a failure.
Therefore, I propose that education through mother tongue is okay till Class VI. But English need to be retained. Thus, when they go to Class VII, they will not be alien to English. Along with mother tongue they will get education in English and will be able to complete Medical and Engineering courses.
If we turn to history, we find that in pre-Independence days Osmania University Hyderabad imparted education through Urdu. Science, Medicine, Engineering and Law were taught through Urdu. I came across Hyder Khan, convener Islamic Development Bank, India and Gulam Mustafa Engineer. Both of them are experts in their respective fields. They had visited the Danishgah Islamia in 1990 in connection with the reconstruction of the building and IDB grant. In their talk, they said that by the Proclamation of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the VII Nizam, in 1917 the Dar-ut-Tarjuma (Department of Translation) was set up in Osmania University. It brought out books of authentic translation of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mechanical and Civil Engineering, Medical and Nursing Courses and also commerce and Law. There were separate volumes on eye, nose, ear, heart, mind, kidney, lungs, maternity, etc. Unfortunately, the Nizam’s Government met a political fall and in 1952 this Dar-ut-Tarjuma was destroyed in fire. Then again in 2010 I had the honour of meeting Dr. Hyder Khan. He practices as a Cardiologist. His clinic is always crowded with patients. Ghulam Mustafa had been a Civil Engineer and had completed his studies through Urdu Medium. He has designed the Danishgah Islamia building. When asked about their success, they said they had Now the Government of India is going to adopt its novel education policy to teach through Regional language (mother tongue). It has also assured the Urdu speaking students, by establishing AICTI that it will open Engineering Courses through Urdu medium. How has this idea occurred after 75 years?
So, this is a question mark for me. Every year the government formulates New Education Policy. The present government’s decision to teach through mother tongue seems to be a part of polarisation.
Bha Bha Institute, IIT College, ISRO, and so many private medical and Engineering Colleges where medium of instruction is English and which take no care of Regional or State languages, are open to the rich and well-to-do class of people to grow more prosperous and rural masses and poor urban people who get education in mother tongue/regional language will find no opportunity to get jobs. They will become poorer and poorer. From backdoors the Government is showering its favour to English education for higher classes. Whereas the New Education Policy will be disadvantageous to common people as a whole.
[The writer is Director, Danishgah Islamia High School, Asansol]