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Examining the Linguistic Dimension of Draft National Education Policy, 2019

Examining the Linguistic Dimension of Draft National Education Policy, 2019

The Kasturirangan Committee’s framing of the draft National Education Policy, 2019 seems to be rather ill-informed linguistically. Despite its politically correct rhetoric, most of its recommendations are linguistically unsound and simply unpractical.

The draft National Education Policy, 2019 (DNEP), especially its Section 4.5, titled “Education in the ­Local Language/Mother Tongues: Multilingualism and the Power of Language” (pp 79−87), celebrates Indian languages in general and Sanskrit in particular. It also celebrates multilingualism (though understands it only as an additive static model that is being increasingly questioned in research) and the three language formula (TLF) that is theoretically unsound and has had a disastrous history. However, Indian languages, including Sanskrit, are best celebrated in theory and pedagogy that is rooted in multilinguality of specific contexts where there is an attempt to empower the languages that have been marginalised by the dominant languages. The issue of education in languages of lesser power needs to be addressed before it is too late (Volker and Anderson 2015).

Before taking up the language issues, I feel compelled to say something about the language of the DNEP itself. There often appear typos and errors which will ­indeed get fixed in due course. What is non-trivial is the verbosity and repetitive nature of the report. In fact, it may be a good idea to have the report profe­ssionally copy-edited; it may become a more readable comprehensive document of about 200 odd pages. It would be simpler to get the copy-edited version translated in all the 22 languages of the 8th Schedule of the Constitution and have a worthwhile national debate. Let me just take one example:

The second part will be an educational framework for three−eight year olds (foundational stage)—intended for parents as well as for Anganwadis, pre-primary schools, and Grades one and two—consisting of a fle­xible, multilevel, play-based, activity-based, and discovery-based system of learning that aims to teach young children alphabets, numbers, basic communication in the local language/mother tongue and other languages, colours, shapes, sounds, movement, games, elements of drawing, painting, music, and the local arts, as well as various socio-emotional skills such as curiosity, patience, teamwork, cooperation, interaction, and empathy req­uired for school-preparedness. (DNEP, p 49; 93 words)

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Updated On : 10th May, 2020

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