New Delhi: The Supreme Court declined to stay the High Court order which quashed the Andhra Pradesh government order to make English medium mandatory in all government schools from classes I-VI. The top court noted that for foundation it is important that a child learns in the mother tongue.
Senior advocate K.V. Viswanathan, appearing for the Andhra Pradesh government, said the High Court order affects the poor and the marginalised. “All want to study in English medium”, argued Viswanathan before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian.
The bench noted that India is the only country where children are taught in foreign languages and there is also conflict of opinion among experts in relation to the medium of instruction. Viswanathan insisted that English language is necessary for advancement in life and opportunities and if a person is proficient in English then opportunities are not limited for that person.
Viswanathan added that he knows lawyer friends from Tamil Nadu who studied in the vernacular medium, and now they are finding it difficult to argue matters in the top court, as they continue to think in vernacular.
However, the Chief Justice said this example may not be appropriate in the matter and for foundation it is very important that the child learns in the mother tongue.
Viswanathan clarified before the bench that he meant that lack of command over English may be an issue when a comparison is drawn with people who have studied in English medium. He informed the bench that choice of studying in Telugu medium has not been taken away. The bench said it will hear the state government’s appeal next week.
The Andhra Pradesh government had argued that the government’s decision is a progressive measure and there is nothing in the Right to Education Act which says that medium has to be in mother tongue. In the earlier hearing, Viswanathan had said the government undertook a survey and majority of parents desire English medium.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan, who is on caveat, had opposed the stay on the High Court order and submitted that the state should be fostering its mother tongue. Sankaranarayan argued that the choice is being taken away from parents and children, as Telugu-speaking schools are being replaced with English medium.