File photo of Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh YS Jagan Mohan Reddy Speaks during a cabinet meeting. | ANI
File photo of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S.R. Jagan Mohan Reddy. | ANI
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The Andhra Pradesh government has come out with a revolutionary education plan for students from Class I to VI. It has decided to publish what are known as ‘mirror image’ school textbooks in two languages—English and Telugu. Each book will have the lessons printed in both languages, side by side. This will go a long way in solving the problems faced by students and teachers in government schools where the medium of instruction is English. The experience will make them realise how learning in English is easier compared to Telugu. It is easier to learn English alphabets and sentence formation, too, than any other Indian language.

Those who believed in the saying ‘Desa bhashalandu Telugu Lessa (among the nation’s languages, Telugu is the best)’ never cared to develop the Telugu script to suit the tongue of a child who came from an agrarian family. Most of the written text in Telugu is very different from the Telugu that the masses communicate in while working in the fields. Engaged in their productive activities of life—tilling the land, harvesting the crop, and preserving food items at home and outside—people speak what is known as praja bhasha (people’s language), whereas book writing takes place in pandita bhasha (language of the pandits). The pandita bhasha is nothing but Sanskrit, which never was a field and kitchen language. Even in Brahmin households—where only men are known as pandits—Sanskrit was not allowed to be the home and kitchen language of women. Once that language was dubbed in Telugu letters and imposed on the working class, the mismatch became real. This led to the stunting of children’s creative learning.


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English over Telugu

English, on the other hand, evolved in the opposite direction. Till the end of the 14th century, English was primarily a farmer’s language in England, and was not used in church because Greek and Latin were the accepted divine languages, even in the Anglican Church. English evolved and developed in the farm fields before it became a ‘book language’.

It was only after the peasant’s language was adopted as God’s prayer language that English became richer in print and spoken forms. Even German and French prospered after they were accepted as prayer languages. This can easily be called the greatest revolution among Europe’s peasantry. Once a language is accepted as divine, its growth would entirely be different. In Hinduism, Telugu or any other Indian language such as Hindi, Marati, Gujarati, Bengali and so on, is not considered divine even now in big temples. This is yet another reason for the stunted growth of Telugu.

Another major issue that hinders language development is the reluctance of the canon to adopt a new vocabulary. Unless the alphabet is simplified and words from farm fields and tribal areas enter the written text, Telugu or Hindi or Tamil or Bengali will not get enriched. The Andhra government’s plan to introduce ‘mirror image’ textbooks will go a long way in enriching the legacy of the Telugu language.


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Semester, a new experiment

The Andhra government is also adopting the semester system in school education from this delayed academic year—another first. It should prove productive in the long run because two assessments in one academic year will ease the burden of performing in a heavy syllabus from students’ shoulders. This is, in fact, a non-European-American model in school education and is worth trying. Unlike the Euro-American model, India never developed a system that could use technology to reduce the weight of heavy school bags. The new system would mean students will have to carry books relevant only to that particular semester.

Teachers need to do a lot more to constantly improve learning abilities and creative thinking among children. The Indian school education system, so far, has stressed on rote learning, which does not encourage creative thinking. For students who would become part of this new experiment in Andhra Pradesh, the process of creative thinking should begin and must grow by the time they finish sixth grade. The ‘mirror image’ books along with individual effort on their part will improve the English of the teachers. That will, in turn, help students. Teachers must realise that there is a teacher in every child.


Also read: The mother tongue fanatics are keeping India a poor, backward country


Teaching ‘dignity of labour’ creatively

The New Education Policy (NEP) proposes to teach students about different vocations from Class VI onwards, in a bid to help them make informed career choices in future. Taking the cue from NEP’s spirit, schools in Andhra need to gradually move to a 5+3+3+4 system, away from the 10+2 model by abolishing Intermediate. The present model provides high school education in a village only up to Class X. But underprivileged students drop out because they cannot go to intermediate colleges—both government and private—in far off cities. The new system allows every student to complete school without leaving the village. Even a small village, which has 50 children, can have a high school up to Class XII. The new system, if implemented across the country, will change the very nature of school education in India.

Children who struggle to focus on studies while living in residential schools in urban centres, away from their families, can better manage the load of high school syllabus. The NEP also extends the duration of all under-graduate courses to 4 years. This is to ensure that every graduating student confidently enters the job market.

Euro-American systems mandate post-schooling of adults taking place away from the family set up. Students should live on their own, irrespective of their family’s economic status. This is one reason why higher education is not affordable to all in many Western countries. In India, this system may not work because of huge economic disparities. Here, we should learn from China — a country that has the same school-going population like ours, but a society and a State that values ‘dignity of labour’, thereby providing equal opportunity.

In India, teaching ‘dignity of labour’ must start by making children kitchen-friendly. Books from Class VI onwards must include theory lessons on cooking, making students realise the importance of the daily chore. Parents must train their children to cook and perform basic household duties, irrespective of the child’s gender. The Andhra government is giving money (Rs 15,000 per year) to mothers as part of the ‘Amma Vodi’ scheme. Such state support would ensure mothers play a positive role in the child’s education.

Schools, during parent-teacher meets, must ask the guardians to teach their children the ‘dignity of labour’ by assigning them various household duties. That’s nothing less than creating a cultural asset and a lesson children will never forget—no work is small and no work is undignified. It should also be the responsibility of teachers to track the students’ progress in learning household work.

Schools should also arrange sessions on imparting basic agrarian knowledge through which students could learn about cultivation. Chinese students learn to soil their hands from the fourth grade onwards. States can adopt their own methods and models to teach and make students practice the ‘dignity of labour’ through such activities. Andhra Pradesh has made a good start. If the state builds upon this and continues to tread this path, it will emerge as the most creatively positive investor and giver of scientific education to its citizens of tomorrow, of whom the country will be proud.

The author is the former director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad and a well-known author. Views are personal.

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29 Comments Share Your Views

29 COMMENTS

  1. Bernard Shaw exactly felt the same way regarding English language. He says there is no one English people can expect. It is better left half learnt even for a native Englishbspeaker rather than trying to master it which no one on earth can do. There is nothing called proper English at all according to GB Shaw. I don’t think anyone else can speak better than him regarding English language. For this article, check the lesson in Junior Inter English textbook.

  2. English is being propagated to remove the culture embedded in Telugu and make conversions easier. When Telugu is learnt, it is taught using literature that is traditional and upkeeps the regional values. Destroy it and you have bunch that has no idea of the culture and then herd them to the church.

  3. Author is a well known christian religious conversions mafia which wants to destroy telugu literacy and culture in all possible manners…

  4. An interesting read.
    I definitely resonate with this Article, the Telugu taught to us in school was very “granthika” or “granthikum” like.
    Which wasn’t spoken at home at all.
    The Telugu which is found in books today is brahminical and learning in English will atleast provide a common ground to grow.
    There is hope in the present endeavour

    • there is no caste to telugu even Gurram Joshua wrote telugu in the same traditional way Bammera Pothana was an agrarian and all dialect telugu words are in Annammayya Keerthanas dont comment just because to want to target one group even English speakers learn the traditional way a language is pronounced – there is tradition and adoption both are wonderful in telugu do not bring caste into this

  5. Worst article till date….
    The author doesn’t know anything about Telugu..
    Can this author dare to write article on comparing other south Indian languages with English….
    Author is a fool of the world. He has to be admitted in mental hospital

  6. Absolutely false information. Shame on media outlets like “The print” for publishing such misleading information.
    ఇంగ్లీష్ భాష నేర్చుకునే అవసరం ఎవరికి ఉంది సమాజం లో అని మనం ఒక సారి ఊచించుకోవలి. వీడి చివర ఉన్న దుకాణం చుస్కునే అబ్బాయి కి ఇంగ్లీష్ భాష అవసరమా? మనం తినే కురాగలయు, బీయం పండించే రైతు కి అవసరమా? కొద్దో గొప్పో 20 శాతం కంటే తక్కువ జనాభా IT కంపెనీలలో వారికి తపితే ఎవరికి అవసరము ఇంగ్లీష్ భాష?
    అమ్మకు, అమ్మ భాష కు గొరవం ఇవ్వాలనే ఈ బీచుఅలకి తెలుగు భాష అవసరం ఎప్పటికీ అర్దం అవ్వదు!

  7. @”Most of the written text in Telugu is very different from the Telugu that the masses communicate in while working in the fields”.
    This author and the government doesn’t understand or unaware that “Most of the written text in English is very different from the English that the masses communicate in while working in the fields”. Lol

  8. Nonsense…….No language is easier or better than Mother tongue . Telugu is an ancient language. It is also known as ‘ITALIAN OF THE EAST’ …no other language in India got such an accreditation. If this come into existence, it will be the end of the telugu literature. The government should provide an option to the students to select their medium. Government can’t insist. If English language alone can help for the development ,then why many countries whose official language is English aren’t developed?. USE YOUR BRAIN WHILE TAKING DECISIONS.

  9. This is the worst article ever seen…. Jagans idea is good but that is not for saying english is easy than telugu that is to make childern familiar with english in higher educations… Look this author how he made it like a controversy

  10. Looks like a biased article, the reason i say so is because

    1. Most of the written text in Telugu is very different from the Telugu that the masses communicate.

    Even in case of English what masses communicate is different from what is there in poetic, dramatic form available in books.
    for that matter any spoken language including URDU is different from its literature.

    2. Telugu is different from Sanskrit.

    You were saying pandit form of telugu language is sanskrit which is absurd major religious texts are available in pure telugu form.
    Telugu may have borrowed from sanskrit, but is altogether a different language with its own form of vocabulary.
    Sanskrit is divine language, however the said languages evolved from Sanskrit are equally divine.

    3. You were arguing Sanskrit is alone enough why other languages,

    in that case even ISLAM being a monotheist religion has many sub sects. WHY?
    because whatever people are comfortable with they will follow.

    3. Telugu is not considered to be divine.

    All hymns in praise of gods are written in Sanskrit so what is the proble, the corresponding meaning will be available in any language for that matter of fact.

    Rich and holy books like Mahabharata, GITA, Ramayana have been written in Telugu language. How can you say it is not divine..

    Just beacuse Islam has one language there is no universal rule that all regions be same.
    There are many muslims who speak well in telugu and adapted to telugu culture.

    My advise to you do not burn the bridges, because you will be the first one to be suffer.

  11. You cannot impress pigheaded fellows who tries to compare mother tongue with slavery tongue. What sort of idiosyncrasy is for this author, one can easily understand. Such people even call maid or foster mother better than mother. Just for cheap publicity. Very unfortunate that devil minded fellows who cannot appreciate mother tongue and culture occupied high positions in literary institutions (ofcourse through reservations channel). Shame on such people to be acclaimed as eminent writers. It is just spitting venom and poisoning the system with vested interests. People in the ruling position should have broader outlook and understanding of our culture and heritage. They should not try to paint our originality with slavery system and barrowed inputs like language and customs.
    Hope the learned people will understand ulterior motives of these thugs and goons.

  12. Rubbish guy, rubbish article. Telugu is a farmers language. The author is a known rascal known for having no intellect. English is not easy because of blah.. It is easy only because of material and exposure available. The center doesn’t want a తెలుగు identity. And this CM doesn’t know తెలుగు. It is good to see so many people from ordinary back ground speak English. But it is sad to see that they can’t think properly even a bit. Useless education policy determined to remove identity to make us britishers/white slaves

  13. Not much is expected from Kanch Illiah Shepherd. I can understand his rant given his hate for Hindus and India. Why not, these folks were indeed treated badly. An opinion coming out of dislike and hate (justified as it may be) usually is not right.

  14. Apart from the author’s rant about Sanskrit, for the first time ever, I actually support an article by Kancha Ilaiah. All points made by him about improving education in India are noteworthy and deserve to be experimented with. Again, his claim about China respecting the ‘dignity of labour’ is a farce. The Chinese Communist Party treats the labourers as expendable commodities and subjects them to slavery. But the author’s assertion that labour needs to be respected in India is an amenable suggestion as well.

  15. This author of the article looks like a mental case. If English grew from a farmer’s language, did telugu grew from any aliens? If telugu did not grow from the bottom layer and hence is not useful, how does English help the local farmer or the kitchen mates over native Telugu?
    Looks like a crooked perspective!

  16. Ilee trans once told keep bible in every school kid hand to convert. Ilee trans is more than happy as pastors no longer need to do prayer service in telugu. It’s easy for conversions.

  17. I think the author only sees present day Telugu texts. If he goes back and see the text books in 1940s, 1950s and even 1960s the text books in Telugu upto 6th standard were in simple telugu.
    Shakespeare dramas were in farmer language? They were text books in England schools. Is Byron’s language farmers’.
    This article looks like written with ulterior motives, not with a real academic outlook.

  18. Let ysrcp leaders including jagan talk in English only in their houses, public interaction, assembly and council as well as public meetings because they believe that is the only way to salvation. They begged for votes to win the election in telugu only.

  19. Absolutely rubbish article on comparison between English and telugu. Clearly the author write in a one street perspective.

    • But his new found Messiah,Modi wants mother tongue to be taught as medium of instruction in primary level. Who knows he may change his opinion Ashe changed about Hindutva.An armchairs intellectual who always wants to be on the right side of the rulers.

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