18 January, 2021

NEP 2020: The New Language Formula Is Identical To What Macaulay Proposed In 1835

For children who do not speak English at home, this is definitely a more efficient way to learn it, writes linguist and author Peggy Mohan

NEP 2020: The New Language Formula Is Identical To What Macaulay Proposed In 1835

In the middle of a pandemic, with schools and universities physically closed and no date set for their reopening, the government has come out with a National Education Policy (NEP) document that suggests the road ahead might be a bit different from the one we knew before. One thing that has excited the public is the section titled Multilingualism and the Power of Language, which says: “Wherever possible, the medium of ­instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be in the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional ­language…. This will be followed by both public and private schools.”

It is ironic that this is essentially identical to what Macaulay proposed in 1835 in his famous Minute on Indian education: that Indian children be taught in the local language until Class 5, and even up to Class 8 if they wished, after which instruction should transit to English-medium for those who wished to eventually join the civil ­services. How times have changed! In the years since Independence, so many of our...



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