Andhra Pradesh government’s
bold step in making English medium
compulsory heralds change
India’s education policy discriminates
against children from poor
families. Government schools serving
them are badly run and the medium of
instruction is usually the regional language
even when parents desire a transition
to English. But change could be
on the anvil.In Andhra Pradesh this
month, the Chandrababu Naidu government
began the process of moving
municipal schools from Telugu to English
medium. Separately , a committee
of bureaucrats recommended that
there should be at least one English
medium school in all blocks and science
ought to be promoted. These de-
Reform Schools
velopments are welcome.
A sound public education system
is the best guarantee of equal opportunity
for all. Successive governments
have failed children and society
on this front and tried to compensate
through irrational reserva tion policies.
This has opened up new fault lines in
society as fresh caste agitations keep
under mining social stability. Governments
may finally be waking up to the
problem by pushing back against
nativism and emphasising on learning
outcomes. To illustrate, a new initiative
which asked schools to devise a
format to allow students to rate their
classroom experience is a step in the
right direction. Learning outcomes and
teacher accountability should be the
government’s priority , not school infrastructure
which is a focal point in
the Right to Education Act.
India’s education policy needs
radical reform. Government must let
private institutions be as micro-managing
them is counterproductive. Instead
the focus should be on public
schools which today languish for want
of attention. If accountability is enforced
and learning outcomes improved,
it will directly benefit children
from poor families and bringing about
a fairer society . Education is in crying
need of big bang reforms which
move away from hackneyed solutions
of reservations and heavy-handed state
control. In this context, Naidu deserves
credit for boldness.

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