Even as 22 more Kannada medium Government Higher Primary schools in the district seek permission to introduce English medium sections for 2013-14, there are questions over the efficacy of the policy, which intends to increase enrolment in government schools.
A majority of the schools, which propose to introduce English medium from class 6, are unsurprisingly, from the urbanised Mangalore taluk, 12 from Mangalore South educational block and five in Moodbidri block have applied. Only one school in Bantwal and four in Puttur have applied, while no school from the rural blocks of Sullia and Belthangady are in the list.
The list of schools is yet to receive approval from the Director of Primary Education, but officials at the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (DDPI) office here believe it is only a matter of time they get approved.
While this takes the total of such schools to 57 here, this is lower than 35 schools accorded permission last year.
On the low response, department officials said the primary objection is from government teachers. “Most teachers have learnt in Kannada medium. There is a fear they cannot cope with the new medium. And, the five-day training in English is not enough for them,” said an official.
Among the schools hoping to start English medium sections this year is Government Higher Primary School in Moodupadukodi in Bantwal taluk. It was falling enrolment rates that convinced Headmaster Shivappa Poojary.
“We have two English medium private schools close to our school. While we enrolled 24 children two years ago, last year it was only 13. Already four children have asked if they could leave the school. We believe that English medium can help us compete,” he said.
Red tape tangle
While six schools in Belthangady taluk applied last year, none had started due to late approvals from the Education Department. This year too, red tape seems to have scuttled plans. Belthangady Block Education Office (BEO) claimed to have sent a list of nine schools. However, this list has not reached the DDPI.
“We have even ordered books for these schools, and told them to start admissions. Now, we find out the list has not reached the DDPI office,” said P. Balakrishna, Block Resource Coordinator. The schools may not get permission this year, he said.
Strangely, assuming their school would receive the permission, Government High School in the tribal-dominated village of Naravi has started admissions for English medium in Class 6. “The BEO okayed our proposal and so we decided to start admissions,” said a teacher, oblivious to the departmental error.
In Sullia, too, none of the six schools given permission last year have started English medium sections. This year, schools have been asked not to apply for permissions to start English medium sections till the higher education infrastructure is in place. For example, in Sullia taluk of sparse population density, after class 7, English medium high schools are often at great distances from higher primary schools.
“Most schools in the taluk are higher primary schools. If we allow English here, on graduating to class 8, these students have to travel, sometimes, 30 km, to find an English-medium high school. We only selected schools where a high school is available within five kilometres last year,” said BEO Malleswamy.
Another hindrance was the massive teacher shortage there — 104 vacancies – which make it impractical to spilt classrooms for Kannada and English medium sections.