by Sonali Sinha
With the introduction of the three language policy under the National Education Policy, 2020 the whole nation and some political parties are stirred. While some are opposing it, on the other hand, some are referring to it as a great move towards the propagation of the regional or a national language. The three-language policy accentuated the use of a national language or a regional language as a medium of instruction till Class 5 of the child. The policy calls for schools to provide the option of studying three languages at the school level out of which two will be indigenous languages.
A Brief History of Language Politics in India
The propagation and promotion of languages has been a very contentious issue in India since its independence. The Constitution of India made Hindi the official language. It also provided that the practice of the English language would continue for the next 15 years and after that, at the discretion of the Parliament, a law would be enacted for the continuous use of the English language for certain official purposes.
But when these initial 15 years were about to end protests broke out in Southern parts of India and they were at conflict to the formation of new states based on linguistic measures. The government passed the Official Language Act, 1963 in consideration with ongoing protests which provided for the continuous use of English language along with the Hindi language. In 1967 the act amended and the English language was made compulsory in certain areas. By that time, the reorganization of the state was complete and the Constitution gave the State legislature the discretion to choose any one language or more languages spoken in states or/and Hindi as the official language.
The Constitution, however, provides for the monitoring of the progressive use of the Hindi Language. For this, a commission has been appointed by the government every 5 and 10 years respectively, which gives its recommendation on the issue. To examine these recommendations a parliamentary committee is constituted that submits its report to the President.
Three Language Policy:
The three-language formula is not new to the Indian context. It had been introduced in 1968 during the regime of Smt Indira Gandhi and was incorporated in the new education policy at that time. There was, however, no such uniform teaching structure. The North followed Hindi as their medium of instruction but the other parts had English or their regional languages as the medium of instruction. This brought in unprecedented chaos and hindrances in inter-state communication. Therefore, in order to avoid these conflicts, the three language policy was introduced.
What does New Education Policy on three- Language formula talks about:
The NEP 2020 brings with it a novel concept of early implementation of the three-language formula comes with the view to promote multilingualism and national unity. As per the new education policy, it is up to the state to decide which is the language of their choice.
The NEP 2020 provides fluidity to the three-language formula as there is no specific language that shall be imposed on any state. The states, regions, and the students as well, are free to choose the three languages which the students want to learn whereas at least two of them are to be native to India. However, the students can change one or more of the three languages which he or she is studying. They may do so in Grade 6 or 7 as long as they are able to learn the basic proficiency of the three languages by the end of secondary school.
The NEP 2020 further states about the medium of instruction and says that the medium of instruction will be the home or local or regional language or mother tongue until at least Grade 5 but It may prefer till 8 Grade and beyond. This will be mandatory for both private as well as government schools.
Criticism of NEP 2020 in relation to language:
The additional burden to the students at an early age: Irrespective of the former policy, the new policy has introduced the three language policy at the initial stage. So it is being criticized on the ground that it will put an additional mental burden on the young students to learn different languages.
Back Door Entry for Hindi: The state of Tamil Nadu has two language systems. The introduction of the new policy creates a fear among them that this would lead to the entrance of Hindi into the state from the back door. Therefore, the state of Tamil Nadu has opposed the new education policy on the abovementioned grounds.
Non-Hindi Teachers Shortage: Various linguistic and educationists have observed that there is a huge scarcity of Non-Hindi language teachers throughout the country and it will eventually lead the students to learn Hindi only because of this shortage.
The Criticism is Valid:
Because of this necessity, people in the state of Tamil Nadu have picked up Hindi to deal with the migrant population who are engaged in the labour work or similar kind of work and therefore teaching the same in the schools. It is contended that the state of Tamil Nadu is restricting or limiting the opportunity of the students to learn Hindi though the new education policy does not expressly mention anywhere that the third language should be Hindi. So, it is entirely the choice of students whether they want to learn Hindi or any other language. Therefore, this means the students, besides learning English and Tamil, shall have to learn any one of the Indian languages.
Language is the most vital part of our education system that plays a key role in strengthening the societal fabric as a whole. It plays an important role in imparting education to the children. There are more than 2500 languages in India which are being spoken in different regions across the country. However, due to the existing federal structure and diversity in language, no local or regional languages have given importance or supremacy over other languages in India. Further, the new education policy has come up with the three-language formula in our education system and gives a ray of hope to further advancement in our education system by removing social disparity. The NEP 2020 has introduced with the aim of giving equal opportunity to all the states for the betterment of their minorities as well as others.
Three language formula: History and Analysis, Retrieved from https://iasbaba.com/2020/08/three-language-formula-history-and-analysis/
FAQ: What is the three language policy in the New education Policy?, ( July 30, 2030), Retrieved from https://www.thequint.com/amp/story/news/education/new-education-policy-medium-of-instruction-mother-tongue-faq
What is the three-language formula, (August 16, 2020), Retrieved from http://lawtimesjournal.in/what-is-3-language-formula/
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