Many private schools under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) are finding themselves in fix over how to “accommodate” Kannada as a language in the curriculum. In October, months after the 2017–18 academic year started, the State government made it mandatory for all schools to teach Kannada.
- The rules for the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2015 were finalised on October 21, 2017
- Schools will have to teach Kannada from this academic year
- Teaching Kannada should be implemented in a phased manner. By the 2026–27 academic year, Kannada should be taught in all classes — 1 to 10
- Students who come from other States and enrol in schools in Karnataka between classes two and eight will have to study class one syllabus of Kannada. They will later have to gradually study the next year’s texts as they move from one class to the other
While the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) schools are waiting for the Government Order, several CBSE schools have introduced the language as a subject for class one students. However, this has thrown up another conundrum: CBSE schools are supposed to teach two languages to students from classes one to four. Now, however, class one students will have to learn English as the first language, Hindi as the second language, and Kannada as an additional language.
As per the CBSE curriculum, students from classes five to eight have to learn three languages, while those in classes nine and 10 will have to learn two languages. Harvest International School, a Bengaluru-based CBSE school, has sent a circular to parents of class one students that Kannada will be taught as the second language along with Hindi. “We will teach Kannada, but we will have to continue to teach English and Hindi as many students may go to other States to pursue their education later,” said school principal Dakshayini Kanna, adding that parents, too, may get transferred.
The principal of another CBSE school here said during an inspection by officials from the Block Education Office, they were asked to show the Kannada textbooks prescribed for students. “To avoid any consequences, we decided to introduce Kannada as a subject from December,” said the principal.
Parents are upset as their children will have to undergo “hardship”. Experts, however, said it will not be a burden for a child to learn the language at the primary school level. Rishikesh B.S., a faculty member at Azim Premji University, said younger children have the capacity to study more number of languages, and this decreases as they age. It is easier for students to learn three languages in primary classes, which can be reduced in secondary school. “The problem, however, may arise in implementation if it is introduced in an erroneous manner. Learning a language should be fun and not become a burden on the children,” he said.
M. Srinivasan, president of the Managements of Independent CBSE Schools Association, said while they were not opposing the teaching of the language, they were against making it as the first or second language. He said the association had decided to challenge the order in the court. “The first language is English and the CBSE insists that we teach Hindi as the second language; the State government says we should teach Kannada as the first or second language. This is not logical; so we are forced to go to the court,” he said.
He added that the State government had no control over CBSE and ICSE schools in this matter as the latest amendment to the Karnataka Education Act, 1983 granted it powers with regard to ensuring safety and security of children as well as fees.
Kendriya Vidyalayas may give the rule a miss
The 47 Kendriya Vidyalayas in the State, which have been directed to teach Kannada as the first or second language in class one for the 2017–18 academic year, may not implement the rule.
“The purpose of a KV is to admit students whose parents have transferable jobs. Their parents get transferred frequently and institutions such as KV are there to make the switch between schools easy for the child. Therefore, we are unlikely to implement it,” a senior official in the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) said.
P. Devakumar, Deputy Commissioner, KVS, Bengaluru regional office, said after the rules pertaining to the Kannada Language Learning Act, 2015 were issued, the sangathan wrote to the KVS headquarters seeking its opinion on the issue. “We are awaiting a response from the headquarters and will initiate action based on their directions,” he said. He, however, said many KVs in the State were teaching Kannada as a language from class six onwards.
Kawaljit Singh Narula, vice-president, Federation of Alumni Associations of Kendriya Vidyalayas, said with frequent transfers of parents, this would not serve the purpose.
“There can be classes to familiarise students with Kannada. But this should not be tested and taught as one of the languages,” he said.