English medium in govt. schools is our policy decision: Deputy CM

G. Parameshwara, Dalit activists come out in defence of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy

January 08, 2019 12:02 am | Updated 12:02 am IST - Bengaluru/Hassan

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s stand on opening English medium sections in 1,000 government schools — which has received criticism from a section of Kannada writers — has received backing from Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara and a section of Dalit activists.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Southern India Science Fair 2019 on Monday, Dr. Parameshwara said he agreed with the Chief Minister and that there is a need to teach English for “international and national competitiveness”.

“In the 21st century, we need to protect our local languages and dialects but we also need to give a competitive edge to our students,” he said, reiterating that English should be the medium of instruction from class 1 and Kannada should be taught as a language.

He, in fact, went a step forward and stated that this was a policy decision taken by the coalition government.

Recently, coordination committee chairman and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had taken exception to the decision and said that he would have a discussion with Mr. Kumaraswamy.

He had tweeted stating that he had studied in the Kannada medium till high school and asked if he was “dim-witted” for studying in his mother tongue. He was of the opinion that Kannada should remain the “sovereign language in Karnataka”.

Meanwhile, several Dalit organisations have come out in support of Mr. Kumaraswamy. Mavalli Shankar, State convener of Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (Ambedkarvada), on Monday, told The Hindu that his organisation had been in favour of teaching English in government schools.

‘Dying gradually’

“Government schools are dying gradually. Only children of poor Dalits and backward classes are going to government schools with no financial support to afford private schools. These children cannot compete with those in private schools. Why should students of government schools alone should take the responsibility of safeguarding Kannada?,” he asked

The Dalit leaders have also resolved to protest against those who oppose English medium in government schools.

Krishnadas, Hassan district convener of DSS, wanted to know where the children and grandchildren of noted Kannada writers had been studying?

“We are opposing the hypocrisy of certain writers who advocate Kannada medium, but send their children to private schools, where they study in the English medium,” he said.

In fact the leaders have demanded that the government should set up a model school in each gram panchayat.

R. Mari Joseph, Hassan district convener of the Dalit Vimochana Manava Hakkugala Vedike, said that this would help people from the rural areas access quality education. “Let the government take Hassan to begin with and set up one school in all panchayat limits,” he said.

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