NEW DELHI: The Union government on Monday revised the draft new education policy to try and quell an uproar in southern states over a proposal for a three-language formula for schools—English, Hindi and a regional mother tongue in non-Hindi speaking states.
The revised draft drops Hindi from the section called “flexibility in the choice of languages” and does away with phrases like “non-Hindi speaking states”.
“In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (including one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school,” said the revised draft policy.
The original draft prepared by a committee headed by space scientist K. Kasturirangan had mentioned that the study of languages by students “in the non-Hindi speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English.”
The relook by the human resource development (HRD) ministry comes after political leaders from southern states, including Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, former finance minister P. Chidambaram and DMK president M.K. Stalin, warned against the forced imposition of Hindi in school syllabuses in southern states.
“Most of us in the South learn Hindi as a second language but nobody in the North is learning Malayalam or Tamil,” Tharoor told new agency ANI.
To be sure, the draft education policy report will undergo at least two more rounds of review before it becomes policy. The centre clarified that no language will be imposed on schools in any state. “This is a draft policy submitted by the committee and is placed for views of the general public. It is not the policy announced by government. After getting feedback from general public, and after consulting state governments, the National Education Policy will be finalized,” the HRD ministry reiterated.
There will be no imposition of any language in educational institutions, nor discrimination against any language, newly appointed human resource development minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told ANI.
As the chorus grew against “Hindi imposition”, various central government ministers over the last couple of days have tried to address the concerns. “Only after hearing public opinion, the draft policy will be implemented. Only to nurture all Indian languages PM launched EkBharatSreshthaBharat. The Centre would support to honour and develop the ancient Tamil language,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a post on Twitter.
On Friday, on the first day of the new government, the HRD ministry put up the much-delayed draft policy online for consultations and feedback from public for a month. Besides, it will take suggestions from each state before taking the policy to the Union Cabinet for discussion and approval, higher education secretary R. Subrahmanyam said.
Education falls under the Constitution’s concurrent list of subjects that can be legislated upon by both the Centre and states.