English from first standard in govt. schools likely

Bangalore Sept. 26. In a major shift in the language policy, the State Government is thinking of introducing English in government schools from first standard while continuing to promote Kannada medium.

Welcoming the Karnataka High Court judgment upholding the Government's decision to make study of Kannada compulsory in English-medium schools, the Minister of State for Primary Education, B.K. Chandrashekar, said today that the Government was of the view that introduction of English in government schools from first standard would benefit children in rural areas.

Speaking to presspersons who met him here, Mr. Chandrashekar said that children in government schools in rural areas were deprived of an opportunity to learn English, and their parents would be happy if their wards were taught the language.

About teaching Kannada in private English-medium schools, the minister said the Government had introduced a rule in 1994, but it was questioned by the managements of some English-medium schools. Private English-medium schools had to appoint Kannada teachers, he added.

On the Akshara Dasoha (midday meal) programme, the minister said that the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, had expressed his desire to extend it to seventh standard from next year.

The Government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs. 90 crore, he added. He would write to Ministers for Education in all States to submit a representation to the Centre for making the midday meal scheme a national programme, so that the latter could fund it and reduce the burden on States.

Mr. Chandrashekar added that the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, had said that it should be extended to tenth standard.

He said the results of the Akshara Dasoha programme were encouraging, and attendance in the schools had improved by at least 10 per cent. Barring four per cent of schools, facilities such as gas stoves and utensils had been provided to institutions which were implementing the programme, he added.

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