26 May 2023  |   04:49am IST

NEP and ambiguity over language education

The government has decided to implement New Education Policy (NEP) from the ensuing new academic year which commences from June.

The Secretary of Education Prasad Lolayekar has informed that the NEP will be implemented from primary level this year and will be implemented across all the levels by 2026. He has also informed about the way in which the primary students will be taught and the training techniques used for the teachers. Although the Secretary has done his duty of informing, the people still have a lot of doubts regarding the NEP. 

Currently at high school level, science, maths, social science and three languages are taught. This means that these are 6 main subjects. In short, a student has to learn in total 6 subjects, which comprise three languages and three aforementioned subjects till 10th Class, while at higher secondary level, a student has to learn two languages and four other subjects. The main question that is haunting people is what will happen to this pattern? 

So far the information from all the sources indicate that the students will be able to choose the subjects of his/her liking. This provision is there for higher secondary students but it is between the two languages and four other subjects. It has been stated by various sources that a science student would be able to choose one to two subjects from Arts or Commerce streams as well. There have also been statements made that there won't be any particular streams in future and students will be able to attend classes of 11th and 12th. If this is to be true, what shall happen to the pattern of two languages and four other subjects? 

There has been no guidance whatsoever on which and how many subjects a student will have to learn. Moreover, the crucial question is what will happen to the three-language and two language patterns that are followed at high school and higher secondary levels, respectively. The government is liable to answer this because learning languages were made mandatory till 12th standard in order to preserve, conserve and develop the Indian languages. This structure has worked well so far and if the government is planning to change it, they should eliminate the thought immediately, because this would cause great loss to the Indian languages. With regard to Goa, this decision, if taken, would pose threat to Konkani, regional languages and Portuguese. There is no way to find out what has happened with the three-language pattern till 10th Class, because NEP has not been implemented at high school level as yet. 

However, the two-language model at higher secondary level seems to be missing. Currently the Science stream has only English language as mandatory subject along with Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics. Of course, there will be options which would complement the Science stream, but in total a student will have to learn only five subjects. This clearly means that the second language has been sidelined. Arts and Commerce will have six subjects but they’d require to pass in only five. Even then, the students, along with the related subjects to their streams, will be able to choose local languages as an option with English being mandatory. It seems as if there won't be any place left for the local languages in NEP. 

In higher secondary school, it was mandatory to choose either Konkani, Marathi, Hindi or any Indian languages available at the institution as their second language. Since it is not mandatory anymore, many may not opt for the Indian languages. If students don’t opt for these languages in 11th and 12th Class, what will happen to the graduation and postgraduate degrees in these languages? The response to these degree courses will be naturally lukewarm and slowly these languages will disappear from higher education. Similar situation had arisen during the 90s and the language enthusiasts had unanimously opposed it. The education board had decided to implement a bilingual model instead of three-languages at high school level. Marathi and Konkani lovers opposed it back then; otherwise these languages wouldn’t have survived in high school education. Later the Board had to withdraw their decision and re-implemented the three-language model. 

However, the old ghosts are back to haunt education again. NEP talks about giving more importance to the development of the languages and has also mentioned that the three-language model will continue. However, the ground reality is contradictory. This model has been there at high school level so it will likely stay there. But the ambiguity over higher secondary level is a big question. Currently it’s almost certain that the model has been removed from higher secondary education and it won't take much time for Konkani and Marathi to disappear. The government should immediately rectify their decision or the language lovers will have to come forward to do so.


Idhar Udhar