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Three Language Formula : Do We Have Enough Qualified Teachers to Teach Modern Indian Languages ?

Kingson Chingakham



The Ministry of Human Resource Development has dropped the contentious clause of making Hindi and English mandatory in the 3 language formula of the Draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2018.

This has been mainly due to the protest from the non-hindi speaking states mainly Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu saw the clause as imposition of Hindi language to the non-hindi speaking states.

Tamil can not be considered as just a language, it is a civilization in itself. Everyone is aware of the rich sangam literature. The clause was considered unfair to the Tamil speaking population and to the other non-hindi speaking states.

Even newly appointed Union Ministers tweeted to clarify the Government’s stand. Assuring that there will be no imposition of Hindi in the non-hindi speaking states, Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance tweeted in Tamil to clear the confusions raised by the language formula clause.

Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs also tweeted :

Post Independence, Indian states were reorganized under the linguistic basis. Therefore, Tamils believe that imposition of Hindi in the non-hindi speaking states will be seen as challenging the nature of Republic of India.

But India has moved on and we no longer reorganize states on lingustic basis. States are now reorganized on administrative and development needs.

The three language formula is nothing new. With the intensification of gloablisation, it is very important that the students start learning more languages. This will not only help them in building a good career but also in personal level.

But some of the best policies remain in paper. And I do not want this policy to be dusted and junked due to poor implementation. One of the reasons why the earlier language policies have not worked is mainly due to the unavailability of qualified teachers.

Qualified teachers are the backbone for the execution of such policy. But do we have sufficient qualified teachers who will be able to teach the students from the basic level?

According to the Eight All India School Education Survey with reference date September 30, 2009, 86.2% of the schools at the primary stage teach through mother tongue.

English as medium of instruction is used in 15.49% schools at the primary stage, 21.08% schools at the upper primary stage, 28.73% schools at the secondary stage and 33.06% schools at the higher secondary stage.

Hindi as medium of instruction is used in 51.50% schools at the primary stage, 54.15% schools at the upper primary stage, 43.18% schools at the secondary stage and 51.45% schools at the higher secondary stage.

This concentration of medium of teaching in particular location means that there is a need to diversify the language across the country. For example, qualified teachers for the Manipuri language are concentrated mostly in the state of Manipur. The demand to learn Manipuri language in other states is very less. Therefore, most of the schools do not even give the students to opt for Manipuri.

Taking one case study of the National Capital Region of Delhi, there are hardly any schools that have hired teachers to teach Manipuri or any scheduled languages from the northeast region. If this is the situation in the capital city, you can imagine the condition across the country.

How do we define a qualified teacher?

Low income countries in South Asia has been plagued by shortage of trained and qualified teachers since decades. According to the UNESCO, only about 71 % of the primary teachers are trained in South Asia.

The Eight All India School Education Survey also revealed that out of 26,41,943 full-time teachers teaching predominantly at primary stage, 84% teachers are trained and there are total 4.7% teachers having academic qualification ‘below secondary’.

Out of 15,44,322 full-time teachers teaching predominantly at upper-primary stage, 83.72% teachers are trained and 13.06% teachers are having academic qualifications as ‘secondary or equivalent’.

Out of 12,67,000 full-time teachers teaching predominantly at secondary stage, 86% teachers are trained. Out of the total, 20.13% teachers are having academic qualifications as ‘below graduation’.

Out of 4,00,695 full-time teachers teaching predominantly at higher secondary stage, 84.05% teachers are trained and 24.56% teachers are having academic qualifications as ‘graduate or equivalent’.

The above figures clearly tells us that we have not achieved the level of 100% teacher training yet. In India, academic qualifications seem to be defining parameter to identify qualified teachers.

Academic qualification is the minimum requirement to be a teacher which needs to be followed by trainings. Most of our teacher education programmes do not include a supervised teaching practice. This directly affects the instructional quality in the classrooms and ultimately the students’ learning achievements. Therefore, we need to put serious efforts to quality pedagogical trainings before becoming a teacher.

In order to meet the teacher shortage, one of the short cuts the schools have adopted is to hire teachers on contractual basis (mostly short-term). But most of these contractual teachers do not meet the minimum training requirement although they might have excellent academic qualifications.

If there are teacher shortages, what we can possibly do is implement Teachers Exchange programme, where schools can participate to exchange teachers with other school teachers. This is one way to learn languages.

For example, in the northeastern and southern states, there are few demands of Sankrit language. So, the teachers from the southern states who can teach the scheduled languages can be exchanged with the north Indian teachers who are well-versed in Sanskrit. Of course, this is a short term solution.

We will also require to hire equal number of teachers for respective languages. Schools should now think how to motivate students to opt for unpopular languages. There still exist massive inquality in how students opt for language papers. Out of the 22 Scheduled languages, only few have emerged popular among the students.

Most students tend to take up a language that will help them in their career. Although a student in 6th grade might or might not have a clear career goal, but there is a perception that has built up among the students that there is no future opting for languages from the northeastern region. We have to clear this misconception and help the students to understand the real objective of studying various modern Indian languages.

The students first of all now see, whether a particular language is scoring or not. Whether that will help in improvement of grades. Some of the schools have excluded language papers from grading and are just qualifying papers. Students do not take qualifying papers seriously as they know that it will not impact on their grades.

I am not saying that the schools should market the unpopular languages but should rather counsel the students.

There was a video that came on social media few days back, where a local hindi speaking teacher in the state of Uttar Pradesh was found teaching Manipuri to the students in a government school. Yes, she did not pronounce the words right. But she made the students understand the language. We need such more schools and teachers to popularise the less know scheduled languages.

The whole idea of including the modern Indian language is to showcase the civilization unity. Language is a very good integrating force. In 1956, the Central Advsisory Board on Education devised a three language formula with a view of removing inequalities among the various Indian languages. The work of the teachers become very important to make the students understand that language plays a very important role outside the career goals.

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