The two new governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are going ahead full-steam to implement the teaching of English in government schools. In fact, Uttarakhand has decided to teach all science subjects in English from Class III onwards in government schools, starting with the 2018-19 academic session. Teaching all science subjects in English will start from Class I eventually. At present, science subjects are taught in Hindi in the state. Uttar Pradesh has announced that English will be taught from Class I in government schools to help students develop “a modern outlook” and to improve standards.

In Uttarakhand, science books which used to be in Hindi until now, will be printed in English. Sources close to the state government confirmed that teachers would be trained to read, write and teach in English. The English science books will be from the National Council Of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), and teachers will not have any difficulties following them as they will be trained at district education and training institutes.

Uttarakhand Education Minister Arvind Pandey told The Sunday Guardian: “The study of science subjects from Class 1 to 12 will be done in English, but this system will be implemented in phases. The first phase will begin with the next session in which science subjects will be taught in English in Classes 3 and 6. After this, other classes, too, will gradually start studying science in English.” Pandey added that in 2019-20, Classes 4 and 7, too, will start studying science in English.

UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma had told the media, “English will be taught from Class I. All the school heads have been directed to improve standards. Teaching standards in state schools will be brought on par with private or missionary institutes. The state government is keeping an eye on the alleged irregularities, poor teaching work and the stagnant nature of elementary education in government schools. The government has a plan to fix the faults in the system. The Chief Minister has expressed his desire for a modern outlook and, at the same time, promote nationalism among students.”

Since both UP and Uttarakhand are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the decision made by the Chief Ministers of the two states to encourage English medium education, is being seen by some as a shift from their “conventional narrative driven by their pro-Hindi image”. However, a source close to the decision-making process in Uttarakhand explained, “This should not be seen as an ideological shift because the issue of development has been integral to the BJP’s vision of India and for that English is seen as important in government schools. It is in the best interest of students to start studying English at a young age; therefore, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat simply brought in a reform which was much needed. In pushing for English language, we are not throwing out Hindi. We are just augmenting the country’s future human resource.”

Renowned academician Sanjeev Rai said, “English means power in today’s world; so obviously, parents want their children to do a thorough job at learning the language and expect schools to take this seriously. So it is valid that the government decided to make English compulsory in public schools. But researchers have written that mother tongue is the best medium for a child to learn in the primary stages of life. That said, the importance of introducing English language should not be under-estimated.”

“Introducing English as a mandatory subject since Class I can still be appreciated at face value. However, making English the medium of education in government schools will not set in easily, but will require time. Children in government schools are not used to English and teachers might not be trained enough themselves to teach mathematics or science subjects in English, rather than in their mother tongues,” Rai added.

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