Significant Elements of Assam Government Education Measures
Why has the Assam government’s new education policies drawn political criticism? Plans to teach science and mathematics in government schools beginning in Class 3 in English are opposed by many.
There has been a lot of discussion in Assam about the state cabinet’s decision to require English as the primary language of instruction beginning in Class 3 for all public schools. The discussion has become more politically contentious as a result of the state’s strong sub nationalism, which has been fueled by linguistic identity.
Nine opposition parties protested the “anti-education” policies of the Bhartiya Janata Party-led administration on September 21. The statement brought together a variety of groups, including the Left and the Congress, as well as local organizations like the Assam Jatiya Parishad and the Asom Raijor Dal. They have based their political platform on preserving Assamese linguistic and ethnic identity.
The Assam Sahitya Sabha, the state’s top literary organization, the influential All Assam Students Union, the All Bodo Sahitya Sabha, and the All Bodo Students Union all released a joint statement on the same day announcing that they would start an agitation against them.
Over September 19, the state assembly was disturbed, and following a discussion on the issue, opposition leaders left. A week earlier, the speaker refused to permit a discussion on the matter when the assembly convened for the start of the autumn session. As a result, the assembly was briefly suspended that day.
The divisive choice had been made in July. Additionally, the cabinet agreed that science and math textbooks would be issued in English in time for the academic year starting in July 2023. The judgement applied to all public and provincialized schools that typically offered education in Assamese or other regional languages. Schools that are considered provincialized are those for which the government is financially responsible for paying salaries and other expenses. The cabinet also resolved to require dual language instruction in all of these schools from Class 8 through Class 12. This would enable school administrators the choice to include English as a language of teaching in addition to the already-present regional languages.
The new rules have drawn criticism from the opposition since they violate the National Education Policy and schools lack the infrastructure to begin teaching in English. The policy, which was adopted in 2020, states that “whenever practicable,” a student’s mother tongue or the local language shall remain the medium of instruction until at least Class 5 and maybe Class 8.
Kiladar Saikia, the head of the Assam Sahitya Sabha and a former director general of the police, said that studies from around the world and experts have concluded that learning courses in your native language is the only way to ensure that concepts are understood. “We have opposed and will continue to fight the decision to change the medium of instruction.”
But earlier, Saikia had come under fire from Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for having both of their sons attend English-medium schools. Samra had added, referring to the reality that pupils from less privileged homes had no choice but to attend government schools, “We should not mess with poor people’s lives.”
But a number of education experts have criticized the government’s choice. Indranee Dutta, a representative on the state Board of Secondary Education’s executive committee, claimed that the government’s choice was not based on facts.
She claimed that the ASER [Annual Status of Education Report] had already demonstrated how poorly Assamese kids performed in both language and mathematics. “A language is a tool for thinking, contemplation, creativity, and creation, not merely for communication. Learning will be slowed down if a child is unable to think and ask inquiries in her or his native language. We must not play with a child’s extremely complicated cognitive space. She continued by saying that math and physics were more than simply disciplines to get through; they were essential skills for surviving in the real world. According to Dutta, “Math’s is knowledge of numbers for practical use in logical analysis and reasoning.” Science is an intellectual and practical endeavor that uses observation and experimentation to better comprehend the natural and social world.