English medium from class 3? Assam Assembly sees loud scenes, outings
Guwahati: Assam Assembly witnessed noisy scenes on Monday during a discussion on the introduction of English as the language of instruction in mathematics and science from the third class in public language schools vernacular.
The issue was raised in the House by opposition leader Debabrata Saikia and his deputy Rakibul Hussain who said the decision to teach both subjects in English from the third grade will have a negative impact on students.
Saikia claimed the decision was contrary to the new National Education Policy (NEP), which emphasized mother tongue as a medium of instruction for young children. He also claimed that the government was trying to hide its own lack of infrastructure through such decisions.
Hussain argued that public spending in the education sector was increasing but student enrollment in public schools was declining.
Aminul Islam of AIUDF questioned the availability of qualified teachers to implement the government’s decision. Independent MP Akhil Gogoi raised questions about the availability of infrastructure, qualified teachers and other issues. When Vice President Numal Momin, who was in the chair, asked Gogoi to wrap up his speech at the end of the allotted five minutes, the lawmaker demanded extra time and stormed into the chamber shaft.
Momin then ordered Gogoi suspended for five minutes and asked the marshals to kick him out of the house.
Loud scenes erupted in the House during Education Minister Ranoj Pegu’s response when he mentioned that the decision on English as the language of instruction was in line with the NEP which emphasizes the ” multilingualism”.
Protesting the government’s decision, Gogoi, who had returned to the House, again stormed the well and staged a strike in protest.
Congress and CPI(M) followed suit, saying the NEP had mandated English as the language of instruction from grade eight and not grade 3. The AIUDF, which remained in the House , expressed his dissatisfaction with Pegu’s remarks for classifying Assamese as a regional language and not giving it recognition as the main language of the state.
AIUDF lawmaker Aminul Islam argued that it was unfortunate that Assamese was listed as a regional language on the floor of the House.
His party colleague, Rafikul Islam, added that if all ethnic language groups identified themselves by their languages, there would only be a handful left to call Assamese their mother tongue.
Pegu said ethnic language will be used as a medium from pre-primary level itself. Students will be expected to learn Assamese as a regional language along with Hindi and English,
While the NEP requires a three-language formula, it will have to be changed to a four-language formula in Assam, he said. Defending the government’s decision, Pegu said there was consensus on the need for English for higher education.
“Since everyone agreed that knowing English is important, then why not start early,” he argued.
Pegu maintained that there will be no additional burden for students to learn more languages and that the program will be expertly designed in an “age-appropriate manner”.
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- English medium from class 3? Assam Assembly sees loud scenes, outings