Andhra Pradesh defends decision to change medium of instruction in government schools to English
India is a country of diversity, and English is essential to enable people to effectively communicate, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government told the Supreme Court on Thursday, defending its decision to convert the medium of instruction in its government schools for classes 1 to 6 from Telugu to English.
Senior counsel KV Viswanathan, representing the AP government, told the court that it is a progressive and forward-looking measure and will not “sacrifice Telugu” since parents are provided with the option to choose the Telugu medium of instruction for their wards.
“India is wonderful country with great diversity. Without English, we will be stuck on separate islands. I would not have been able to address Your Lordships at all,” Viswanathan who hails from Coimbatore said.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court had, in April, struck down a government order converting the medium of instruction in government schools from Telugu to English from this academic year.
Challenging the high court decision, Viswanathan told the court that according to a state survey, over 95% of parents were in favour of English medium. He added that only some parents, who had the means to afford fees for private schools, could admit their wards in schools that impart education in English.
Senior counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the respondents, opposed the government’s arguments, stating that the order robs parents of their choice to have their children instructed in Telugu.
“It takes away the right of Telugu-speaking people to opt for Telugu as a medium of instruction,” he said.
The bench headed by justice DY Chandrachud issued notice in the matter but did not stay the high court’s earlier judgment.
During the hearing, the bench pointed out that as per Section 29(2)(f) of the Right to Education Act, the medium of instruction “as far as practicable” must be in English.
“The high court took that into account (while striking down government decision),” the bench remarked.
Viswanathan responded by stating that if a majority of the parents desire the English medium, then the law under section 29(2)(f) will be satisfied on that account.
The court posted the matter for the next hearing on September 25.