Preference of English medium instruction rises in South India except Karnataka

The number of children preferring English as the medium of instruction has gone up in states like Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab

Language policy - The Federal
The new National Education Policy had re-triggered the debate on mother tongue being the language of instruction at the primary stage

English became the most preferred medium of instruction in all southern states except Karnataka, where more than half of school-going children preferred Kannada as medium of instruction, as per the 2019-20 Unified District Information System (UDISE) released recently.

Among the states, Jammu and Kashmir has nearly hundred percent enrolment in English medium schools followed by Telangana where 73.8 percent of the children are in English medium schools while the rest prefer Telugu as the medium of instruction. Similarly, in Kerala only 34.8 percent of the students prefer Malayalam while the rest follow English. 42 percent of children from across the states still prefer Hindi as their medium of instruction, as per the report.

In 2014-15, a large majority of school-going children from Telangana, Kerala as well as a few other states preferred English as the medium of instruction, while in states like Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab the percent of children preferring English has gone up recently with almost half of the children preferring English as the medium of instruction in 2019-20.

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In Tamil Nadu, the proportion of students preferring English medium of instruction increased from 42.26 percent in 2014-15 to 57.6 percent in 2019-20. The situation is similar in several other states where children prefer to learn in English rather than their native languages.

Haryana saw the maximum increase in children preferring English medium in 2019-20 compared to 2014-15. The state saw an increase of over 23 percentage compared to 27.6 percent children who preferred English in 2014-15.

Going by the data released by the UDISE, Indians are firmly convinced that the only way to learn English properly is to learn everything in English. This is against the logic and empirical evidence both in India and around the world. Children in many countries today learn English as a foreign language.

Some of the state governments themselves make it mandatory for children to learn English like the Andhra Pradesh government. Recently, the AP government decided to make English the medium of learning at all degree colleges in the state beginning this academic year.

The department of Higher Education of Andhra Pradesh thinks introduction of English medium education at the undergraduate level would enhance the career prospects of graduates.

The Andhra Pradesh government had announced in September 2019 that it would introduce English as the medium of instruction in all government schools, and gradually convert all Telugu-medium schools to English-medium ones while still teaching mother tongue Telugu as a compulsory subject.

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The new National Education Policy has re-triggered the debate on mother tongue being the language of instruction at the primary stage. While educationalists point to numerous studies that show the advantages of learning in the mother tongue at the early ages, English continues to be the favoured medium of instruction.

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