I&B Prakash Javadekar (Photo Source: PTI)
Amid widespread backlash over the reported proposal of three-language formula in schools, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday clarified that the Centre was not intended to impose any language on anybody, and the final decision would be taken only after getting public feedback. Dismissing apprehensions over the new education policy, Javadekar said only a report has been submitted regarding the formula so far and the government was yet to take any decision on it. Therefore, the misunderstanding that the government has decided on the new education policy is not true.
"After we will get the public feedback, then only it will come up before the government. More importantly, the Modi government has always promoted all Indian languages and therefore there is no intention of imposing any language on anybody," the Information and Broadcasting Minister was quoted by ANI as saying.
I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar on reported proposal of 3-language system in schools: There is no intention of imposing any language on anybody, we want to promote all Indian languages. It's a draft prepared by committee, which will be decided by govt after getting public feedback pic.twitter.com/t16JC3P8bf— ANI (@ANI) June 1, 2019
"Committee has submitted its report to Ministry, it's not the policy. Public feedback will be sought, it's a misunderstanding that it has become a policy. No language will be imposed on any state," HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said.
HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on reported proposal of 3-language system in schools: Committee has submitted its report to Ministry, it's not the policy. Public feedback will be sought, it's a misunderstanding that it has become a policy. No language will be imposed on any state. pic.twitter.com/hFhJLvAFHF— ANI (@ANI) June 1, 2019
The draft prepared by a panel led by eminent scientist K Kasturirangan was unveiled on Friday, triggering a massive controversy in several parts of India, especially in Tamil Nadu as regional parties, including DMK, warned of a language war on the issue.
Recalling the anti-Hindi agitations beginning as early as 1937 in Tamil Nadu, the DMK chief MK Stalin in a statement said since 1968 the state was following the two-language formula of learning only Tamil and English, adding that the party would never tolerate imposition of Hindi and strongly oppose it.
Parties including the CPI and BJP's ally in the Lok Sabha elections, the PMK too alleged the recommendation on the three-language formula was "imposition of Hindi" and wanted scrapping it. Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan said "be it language or a project, if we do not like that, it should not be forced on us". He said his party would pursue legal options against it.
Tamil Nadu Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan told local media, "There will be no deviation from the two-language formula followed in Tamil Nadu. Only Tamil and English will continue to be taught in our State".
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram in a series of tweets in Tamil said, "What is the meaning of three language formula in schools? The meaning is they will make Hindi a compulsory subject..." In another tweet, he said, "If Hindi language is a compulsory subject its import is imposition of Hindi". "The BJP government’s real face is beginning to emerge..." the former finance minister wrote.
Seeking to cool frayed tempers, the Tamil Nadu government also said it would continue with the two-language formula in the state.
What is three-language formula?
The draft National Education Policy, 2019 available on the government website said the three-language formula will need to be implemented in its spirit throughout the country, promoting multilingual communicative abilities for a multilingual country. Schools in Hindi speaking areas should also offer and teach Indian languages from other parts of India, it added.
The three-language formula, followed since the adoption of the National Policy on Education 1968 and endorsed in subsequent years will be continued.
Since research now clearly showed that children picked up languages quickly between the ages of 2 and 8, and moreover that multilingualism has great cognitive benefits to students, children will now be immersed in three languages early on, starting from the foundational stage onwards, it said.
"...students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in the Hindi-speaking states would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, ... while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi-speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English".
Also, every student will take a fun course on "The Languages of India" sometime in Grades 6-8.
The draft policy said India also has "an extremely rich literature in other classical languages, including classical Tamil, as well as classical Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Odia, in addition to Pali, Persian, and Prakrit; these classical languages and their literatures too must be preserved for their richness and for the pleasure and enrichment of posterity".
A choice of foreign languages like French and German, would be offered and available to interested students to choose as electives during secondary school.