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Thursday, Dec 02, 2021
Outlook.com
opinion

Macaulay’s Oranjuss

The ‘English medium’ mania goes against pedagogy, common sense

Macaulay’s Oranjuss
Illustration by Sorit
Macaulay’s Oranjuss
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The “English medium” tag has an exalted status all over India, but in Kerala the obsession with English takes a rather virulent form, because the rich, the middle class and the poor all have their sights fixed on employment opportunities outside the state. I would in fact suggest that in no other part of the country are locals so ashamed of their own language as in this state. In fact, we have even succeeded in convincing the rest of India that we are the custodians of the English language, and teachers of English from Kerala are in demand all the way from Rajasthan to Sikkim. Meanwhile, education for children between the ages of five and eight in the country’s most literate state is in a tragic mess as a result of this “English medium” mania.

The state education department’s syllabus is actually a good one, in that it keeps academic content limited, emphasises the development of other skills, and uses Malayalam as the language of instruction. But this is a syllabus honoured in default only in government schools. Parents who can afford the fee are invariably sending their children in droves to private schools where they are compelled to speak in English, even in kindergarten classes. Textbooks in all subjects are written in pidgin English, and after three years of “English medium”, a child cannot converse in English. Do you, for instance, recognise this version of a nursery rhyme: “Oranjussa lemuss all so bending! All dull school girls also bending”?

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