Assam govt move to teach Science, Maths in English in schools gets flak

Updated on Jul 31, 2022 03:14 PM IST

Some sections say the move by the BJP-led government was taken in haste without consultations with stakeholders and will hurt Assamese and other vernacular languages in the long run

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma serves lunch to students after the inauguration of the Centralised Kitchen of Akshaya Patra Foundation at Jorhat on Friday. (ANI PHOTO.)
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma serves lunch to students after the inauguration of the Centralised Kitchen of Akshaya Patra Foundation at Jorhat on Friday. (ANI PHOTO.)

The Assam cabinet’s decision to teach Science and Mathematics in English instead of Assamese or other vernacular languages has drawn flak from some political parties, literary bodies and student groups.

On Thursday, the state cabinet had approved that from now both subjects will be taught in English in all government schools from Class 3 till Class 12 instead of the present practice of teaching them in Assamese, Bodo or Bengali.

“Introduction of English as a medium for teaching Science and Maths won’t hurt Assamese and other languages as students will continue to study them as subjects. The move could encourage many parents to enroll their kids in government schools,” chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at an event in Guwahati on Friday.

Some sections say the move by the BJP-led government was taken in haste without consultations with stakeholders and will hurt Assamese and other vernacular languages in the long run.

“The present move by the state government is very confusing. Earlier chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had publicly advocated teaching medicine and engineering in Assamese and now the state cabinet has decided that Science and Maths will be taught in English. The Assam government should make its stand clear on both issues,” Congress’s leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia said.

Regional party, Raijor Dal, said the move will decrease the relevance of Assamese and other vernacular languages of the state. In a statement issued on July 28, the party accused the government of failing to address issues of teachers training and other problems in school education.

“The government’s reasoning that the decision was taken to ensure better performance by students from Assam in national-level exams doesn’t hold water as globally it has been proved that children learn better in their mother tongues, especially at the primary level,” president of Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), said at a press conference on Saturday.

The state’s premier literary body, Asam Sahitya Sabha (ASS) and the most influential students’ organisation, All Assam Students Union (AASU) have also flayed the government decision. There’s also the question about availability of teachers to teach Science and Maths in English.

Opposing the move, Bodo Sahitya Sabha and All Bodo Students Union—the prominent organisations of the state’s Bodo community have said the decision was taken in haste and will have an adverse impact on Bodo language.

“The cabinet decision is welcome. Many people these days send their wards to English-medium schools. The move could help bring that trend down. I don’t think there’s any threat to vernacular languages and the present government won’t take any such move,” said Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) chief Pramod Bodo and president of United Peoples Party Liberal (UPPL), a partner in the ruling coalition in Assam.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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