Government’s Big Change As Southern States Protest Hindi-In-Schools Plan

Draft National Education Policy 2019: The old version had said Hindi and English would continue to be among the three languages students would study in schools, be it in Hindi or non-Hindi states

NEW DELHI: The government has revised its draft education policy after an outcry over a three-language plan that required children in southern states to compulsorily learn Hindi. In the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019, students have the choice of changing any language they want to. Any reference to Hindi has been removed.

“In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages…,” says the revised draft.

The old version had said Hindi and English would continue to be among the three languages students would study in schools, be it in Hindi or non-Hindi states.

Thousands, especially in the southern states, had protested what was seen by many as an effort to make Hindi mandatory till Class 8.

Oscar winning composer AR Rahman’s tweet summed up the passion in the protests. “The beautiful solution ‘Hindi is not compulsory in the Tamil … edited draft!'”, he tweeted.

Several politicians had also warned against the forced imposition of the Hindi language on south Indian states.

Tamil Nadu’s main parties AIADMK and DMK led the protest against what they described as imposition of Hindi as a mandatory third language in schools to serve a political purpose in the long term.

The state’s ruling AIADMK had said the state would follow only the two-language policy of learning Tamil and English and would boycott the new policy.

The issue of Hindi as a subject in schools in south India has been an emotive one, particularly in Tamil Nadu; the region saw anti-Hindi protests from 1937 to 1940 and again in 1965.

The Draft National Education Policy has been prepared by an expert panel led by Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, former chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

The policy says the three-language formula as a means of “promoting multilingual communicative abilities for a multilingual country” and children would “now be immersed in three languages early on, starting from the Foundational Stage onwards”.

The part that provoked a howl of protests from states like Tamil Nadu read: “In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in Hindi-speaking states would continue to include Hind and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English.”

The revised para says: “In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school.” (NDTV)