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In April this year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court allowed a batch of PILs challenging an Andhra Pradesh GO to covert the medium of instruction in Government Schools to English.
The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the plea by the State of Andhra Pradesh challenging the Andhra Pradesh High Court's ruling which set aside the State Government's decision to covert the medium of instruction in Government Schools to English.
The Jagan Mohan Reddy Government of the State had passed a Government order mandating the medium of education in Government schools to be English instead of Telugu. After this order was set aside by the High Court, the State moved the Supreme Court in appeal.
Senior Counsel KV Vishwanathan, on behalf of the State, told the Supreme Court today that this decision was a progressive and a forward-looking decision taken for the benefit of the students. He argued that according to a survey, the majority of the parents were in favour of the Government schools imparting education in the English language.
"Majority of the parents today want medium of education to be in English. This is a forward-looking measure in accordance with the Constitution which takes a strong government to bring such a law."
The Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph today pointed out the provision under Section 29(2)(f) of the RTE Act which calls for the medium of instruction to be in the mother tongue of a child "as far as practicable."
Vishwanathan, however, argued that there was no repugnancy here and that Telugu as a subject was not being done away with.
The Senior Counsel also tried to make a strong case regarding the universality of the English language. He said,
"We have to protect the diversity of our beautiful country but this is a practical move. Without English we would all be stuck in islands. People are moving out of government schools. We have conducted a survey and found majority of the parents want this."
On the other hand, Senior Counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for a caveator, submitted that with this order, the choice of the parents to send their children to Telugu medium school is taken away. Terming the government move "absurd", Sankaranarayanan said,
"The state has taken away the choice of Telugu speaking parents to send the child to a Telugu school. Minority schools and private schools can teach both languages, but government schools will only teaching in English."
The Bench has agreed to hear the case and issued notice on the plea. The Court will hear the case next on September 25.
The GO in question was passed in November last year and it entailed the following changes:
Conversion of classes from I to VI in primary, upper primary and high schools under all managements into English medium and gradually increase each further class from next consequent academic year;
Enhancing the skills of the present deployed teachers, by developing Teachers’ Hand Book, Training of Teachers in English medium teaching skills and knowledge, Compendium of best classroom practices and other pedagogical material for supporting the teachers and to submit proposals for recruitment of teachers for filling up of the posts and;
The Director, Text Book Press was to obtain consent, indent and ensure the supply of English medium text books in the next academic year
In April this year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court allowed a batch of PILs challenging the GO, while also holding that,
“… looking to the history of pre-independence and post-independence and as per the recommendations of the Report of the States Reorganisation Commission, 1955 and the National Policy on Education Act, 1968 and various other Reports, it is unequivocally recognised that medium of instruction in the schools, particularly, upto to standards I to VIII must be in mother tongue.”