Mumbai Local

Students make a beeline for semi-English medium schools

Semi-English medium schools in the city are turning out to be an effective way to stem the dropout rate in regional medium schools.

The enrolment rate in these schools, where Science and Maths are taught in English and the rest in the vernacular, is on the rise.

They are increasingly being preferred by parents who want their children to pick up English, but are not able to cope with the high standards in English medium schools. To cater to the aspirations of such parents and students, many private schools and institutions run by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation are taking lessons in semi-English.

A case in point is Jari Mari Municipal Tamil School, near Kurla, where the number of students in Standard I rose from five to 30 within a year after semi-English was made the medium of instruction. “The lure of English has drawn students from other communities as well,” says school in-charge Jayanti Livingstone.

Ulhas Wadodkar, who teaches in a Marathi-medium school, enrolled his two sons in a semi-English medium school so that they acquaint themselves with the language in their early years and achieve a competent level of proficiency by the time they enter college. He says, “The fee in semi-English medium schools is also easy on the pocket when compared with English medium schools.”

Tangamani Anandkumar admitted her daughter to the Jari Mari Municipal Tamil School as she couldn’t enrol her in a private English medium schools in her neighbourhood. “I want her to be educated in English, which I was not fortunate to get.”

Now, 60 of the 1,107 schools run by the Mumbai Municipal Corporation are semi-English medium ones. These schools were opened in areas that witnessed a rise in the dropout rate in the regional language medium schools. The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, had emphasised providing primary education in the vernacular and the Municipal Corporation now runs schools in seven regional languages, including Telugu, Tamil and Urdu.

Statistics for 2015-16 shows that the maximum number of regional schools (368) is in the Marathi medium, and they have a combined strength of 60,624 students. But the number has dropped from the 63, 335 students in 2014-15. In comparison, in 2014-15, a mere 60 semi-English medium schools had 20,635 students on their rolls.

The success rate of semi-English medium in arresting the dropout rate has prompted the Pune Municipal Corporation to make plans of introducing semi-English as the medium of instruction in all its schools right from Standard I.

Mahesh Palkar, education officer of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation, says, “Learning English is the need of the hour. You cannot blame parents for wanting to send their children to English-medium schools. We may introduce more English or semi-English medium schools to rein in the high dropout rates in our regional language medium schools.”

He says, “There is no competition between the English medium or regional language schools. Most multi-medium schools are run on the same premises.”

Mr. Palkar says he is implementing a system in the city in which teachers can take lessons both in the regional language and English so that students can learn both the languages.

However, Ramesh Joshi, general secretary, Mumbai Municipal Teachers’ Union, says, “The municipal English medium schools do not provide proper education as it is taught by teachers from regional schools. This is nothing but a strategy to reduce the number of regional language schools and play right into the hands of private schools.” Mr. Joshi says, “They are just pandering to the huge craze for sending children to English medium schools and are messing up the entire system in the process. A child is most comfortable in learning in his mother tongue. Students of semi-English medium schools would not really benefit as they never will be able to pick up proper English.”

Ramchandra Yemitkar, president, Mi Marathi Chalval Samiti, a social initiative, agrees with Mr. Joshi’s view. “Even Japan and European countries have not made English the primary medium of instruction, then why are we pandering to English?”

The writer is a freelance journalist

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2020 10:05:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/Students-make-a-beeline-for-semi-English-medium-schools/article14568372.ece

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