SC disagrees with AP’s claim English is the only means for upliftment of poor students

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A bench headed by Chief Jusice S A Bobde expressed reservation while hearing a petition of Andhra Pradesh government seeking a stay of the high court order quashing the government decision to introduce compulsory English medium education for primary school students

The Supreme Court has expressed reservation over Andhra Pradesh government’s argument that English medium education was the only means to uplift poor and dalit students into the mainstream.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramnian disagreed with the claim while considering a petition filed by the state seeking a stay of a high court order quashing its decision to impart primary education compulsorily through English medium.

Adjourning hearing to next week, the bench said, "It is not as simple as you put it. The questions arising from debate over English versus vernacular language are complex and there is no one answer to this. Only in a few countries, the medium of instructions in schools is through a foreign language, like in India. You go to China, France, Germany and other developed countries, the medium of instruction is always the mother tongue," the court was quoted by Times of India as saying.

Senior advocate K V Vishwanathan, appearing for AP government, argued that more than 95 percent of parents want their children to be educated in English medium. He said that the high court order quashing the compulsory English medium instruction for students of class 1 to 6 would adversely impact hopes and aspirations of poor and dalit students, who find it difficult in later life to compete with the students who get educated in English medium schools.

Vishwanathan gave his own example and said many of his classmates who got educated in vernacular medium found it difficult to argue in Supreme Court. "Those who get educated in schools in English medium are better equipped to compete with others and generally they can argue better in court," he said.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta disagreed and said Vishwanathan was unnecessarily pitching the English medium instructions too high. In April this year, the high court had set aside the order for government schools to convert the medium of instruction from Telugu to English.

Image Credit: The Week

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