Parents in Bengaluru in mad rush to learn Kannada

Back to school: Determined to help children, parents are learning how to speak, read and write Kannada.

Back to school: Determined to help children, parents are learning how to speak, read and write Kannada.  

Unexpected fallout of the State government’s move to make language a compulsory subject in school

After years of going about life without knowing Kannada, parents in Bengaluru are now scrambling to learn the local language and its script. From joining WhatsApp groups and signing up for online tutorials to hiring private tutors and even roping in the services of their domestic help, they are trying everything to decode what used to be little more than strange sounds and funny squiggles.

The reason for this sudden interest is not so much a newly discovered passion for Kannada as the necessity to monitor their wards’ progress in school. In October 2017, Karnataka government made it mandatory for schools to have Kannada as a subject. The rules for the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2015 state that all schools, including those affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), must teach Kannada.

While this will be implemented in a phased manner for all classes, Class One students have to learn Kannada from this academic year.

The government’s decision seems to have had an unforeseen fallout as mothers, fathers, uncles and aunts found themselves staring helplessly at homework assignments — all in the middle of the academic year. Determined to help their children, many families are applying themselves to the task of learning Kannada.

Sharmistha Ghosh, whose daughter is in class one, was caught off-guard by the sudden change. “I come from a Bengali household. Now I’m taking the help of my maid who studied in a Kannada medium school till Class IX. I am also relying on audio content prepared by the school,” she said.

Saima Tabassum, a homemaker who has been living in Bengaluru for a decade, said: “I help my children with all subjects but was clueless when it came to Kannada. So I’ve signed up for classes.” She has enrolled with ‘Kannada Gotilla’, a group that posts lessons on WhatsApp every day and gives assignments on weekends.

Schools, too, are reaching out to parents. Dakshayini Kanna, principal of Harvest International School, said that the school had been receiving requests from non-Kannadiga parents to provide worksheets in Hindi and English as they were not familiar with Kannada.

“We have columns where we write spoken Kannada in English and Hindi, with pronunciation guides and explanations,” she said.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2020 3:29:07 PM |

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