Activists voice support for seeking English medium for higher primary schools in Karnataka.
At a seminar on ‘Medium of Instruction at Primary and High School Level’ held under the aegis of Hazrat Hameed Shah Dargah Complex Management Committee here on July 14, a group of educational and social activists resolved that the Government should be urged to allow even Government Urdu Medium Primary Schools to convert to English medium as only students with adequate
knowledge and felicity in English possessed the requisite employability in the job market. The Dargah Management Committee had convened the seminar in pursuance of the Karnataka Government’s latest announcement to allow English medium in Government Higher Primary Schools which teach beyond 5th standard. It signaled a change in the policy of the state government which had sat tight against turning having English medium in Government schools. The participants at the seminar also felt that English textbooks
under the existing syllabus being followed in Kannada and Urdu medium schools were too weak and needed upgradation in order to make the students learn at least 5,000 words in English and about a thousand sentences by the time they pass out the fifth standard. It also recommended that Urdu be made first language for the students who choose to opt for English medium beyond 5th standard in these schools. The seminar was inaugurated by Prof. Mumtaz Ali Khan, MLC and former minister. Dr. Khan said English medium for the
students from the underprivileged sections would enable them to pursue higher education. He said enrolment of students in Urdu schools was declining and he found four teachers and 35 students in a village school and sked if the Headmistress did not feel prick of conscience receiving salary of Rs. 20,000 a month. He said the Government Urdu teachers must visit homes in the vicinity to enroll new students. He however remarked that even Kannada medium was not very popular with Kannadigas and Government Kannada
Medium Schools too were being closed. He said English medium schools were worst exploiters. ‘Urdu is being marginalized, ignored and belittled by the Urdu-speaking folk themselves’, he remarked. President of the Dargah Management Committee Abdus Samad Khan said mosque managements should set up nursery for children in the mosque premises to be used during non-prayer hours. Sajjad Qureshi, President, Urdu School Teachers Association, came out with some home truths and said today English was sikka raijul waqt (the legal tender) today and knowledge of English was the criterion for a person to be tested publicly. He said medium of instructions other than English created inferiority complex. He suggested that Urdu be made compulsory language in all schools opting for English medium. Dr. Mahnoor Zamani Begum, former HoD of Urdu department in Bangalore University said there were a lot of issues such
as distance from culture and religion if schools were to be converted into English medium schools. Maqbool Ahmed Siraj in his paper titled ‘Muslim Education: Choice of Medium’ said the Muslim in Karnataka must opt for English medium choice beyond 5th standard in the existing rdu medium schools as few Urdu medium students were able to pursue education beyond high schools. He said considerable number of Muslims in Bangalore and Karnataka were able to take advantage of Information Technology only because Muslims had set up as many as 250 English medium high schools during the last 30 years in the city of Bangalore. He said Urdu must be taught as a language under 3-langauage formula sincerely and seriously in all such schools that were opting for conversion. He said
conversion into English medium would entail several non-Muslim teachers being appointed in these schools. “This must be welcomed as Urdu became a byword for ‘Muslims only’ attitude and led to inertia, incompetence and callousness among teachers which led to present decline”. He said as educational advisor at the 120-year old Muslim Orphanage, he was witness to the decline in standards of Urdu and general teaching in its institution. He said most Urdu teachers, who are Muslims only, do not upgrade their professional excellence once they land up the government jobs. Most of them being women, also double up as housewives and find no spare time for selfstudy and excellence. ‘There were Urdu teachers who had not touched a book since they joined the government jobs 35 years
ago’, he remarked. Mohammed Kaleemullah, a former Government of Karnataka officer, said departure of men from the profession of teaching had resulted in laxity in control of classes. The Government policy of not failing the kids till 10th standard and avoidance of
stick to discipline the kids had led to indiscipline. He said most of the parents sending their kids to Urdu schools were aware of these deficiencies but did not have the requisite linguistic sophistry to convey these grievances to the administration. He welcomed the Government initiative to allow the English medium from 5th std and said the very same teachers could be trained to handle the English medium classes. Wing commander Mahmood Khan drew attention towards starting Urdu anganwadis in Muslim mohallas and recounted success of his personal efforts in this direction. Other participants included Syed Basheer Ahmed, Syed Tanveer Ahmed of Karnataka Muslims, Mahmooda Khanum, Prof. Rahmatul Haq, Journalist Muneer Ahmed Azad, Mrs. Shakira Begum, Mumtazunnissa, and Dr. Syed Ajmal Pasha from Institute of Social and Economic Change.