Their Bhasha, Their Future- Research has shown teaching in mother tongue leads to better skilling as well as better grasp of English

Source: The post is based on the article “Their Bhasha, Their Future- Research has shown teaching in mother tongue leads to better skilling as well as better grasp of English. Recent CBSE decision is the right call, argues IMF’s executive director” published in “Times of India” on 11th August 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

News: In this article, author emphasizes the importance of teaching children in their mother tongue for better understanding and a connection to their culture. He also cites evidence that this method enhances learning and success and argues against the misconception that English education alone propels progress in India.

What efforts did India make to teach children in their mother tongue?

Historical Efforts:

Gandhiji believed that English as a primary medium created a barrier between educated elites and the masses. He felt it hindered the spread of knowledge to everyone.

Freedom fighters like C Rajagopalachari, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and Annie Besant stressed an education controlled by Indians, valuing the country’s ethos.

Unlike Jawaharlal Nehru, who leaned towards Western methods, these leaders saw value in beginning education in the mother tongue, introducing English later.

Annie Besant, in “Principles of Education,” suggested schools teach in the local mother tongue, introducing English later.

Government of India Efforts:

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued an order on July 21 to use the mother tongue for instruction, highlighting its commitment to native language education.

The National Education Policy also encapsulates the intent to promote mother tongue instruction.

What are the UNESCO findings on teaching children in their mother tongue?

UNESCO Findings on Mother Tongue Instruction:

Global Advocacy: Since 1953, UNESCO has consistently promoted mother tongue education through its Global Education Monitoring Reports.

Learning Impact: Being taught in a language other than one’s own can have negative effects on learning, especially for children from poor backgrounds.

Duration Recommendation: At least six years of mother tongue instruction is necessary to reduce learning gaps for minority language speakers.

Pedagogical Reasoning: A background study for the 2005 UNESCO report emphasized that mother tongue-based bilingual schooling is rarely challenged based on its educational logic.

Note: Research suggests that starting with the mother tongue and introducing English later makes learning English easier. Skills acquired in the mother tongue during early years assist in mastering a second language later in life.

What should be done?

CBSE Directive: Implement the Central Board of Secondary Education’s order to use the mother tongue for instruction.

Adapt Schools: Address challenges in teacher recruitment, curriculum development, and teaching materials to cater to diverse linguistic backgrounds.

Lead by Example: Government’s Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas should pioneer the implementation of mother tongue instruction.

Value Research: Policymakers should prioritize evidence-based benefits of mother tongue education over anecdotal arguments advocating English-only education.

Uphold Rights: Recognize and ensure that education in the mother tongue for every child in India, as it nurtures learning excellence and cultural connection.

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