Sunday, April 2, 2023

Plea in SC against AP HC striking down of govt order for English in govt schools

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today issued notice in a plea challenging the Andhra Pradeh High Court’s decision of striking down a government order mandating the use of English as a medium of instruction in government schools.

The court has also asked the parents’ organization to file an affidavit and will consider the application for stay on the order after caveators have a chance to file their affidavits within two weeks.

A three-judge bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph issued the direction while hearing a plea filed by the Andhra Pradesh government, challenging high court’s order by which it had quashed government orders seeking the implementation of English as a compulsory medium of instruction at primary level, from Class 1 to 6 in all the government schools in the state, beginning from the ongoing academic year 2020-21.

School children in one of the schools in Srinagar/Photo: UNI

Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan, appearing on behalf of the state, requested for a stay on the order, along with issuance of notice, calling the government’s decision a progressive measure.

Justice Chandrachud noted that Section 29(2)(f) of the Right to Education Act says that ordinarily the medium should be in the child’s mother tongue “so far as it is applicable” unless not possible and it seems that the high court took this into account.

Vishwanathan said the Court should interpret “in so far as possible” as has been interpreted by Supreme Court. The Right to Education Act doesn’t say that medium has to be mother tongue. The decision is progressive and practical today. English is important today and majority of the parents want this to be implemented as per to the survey undertaken.

“People are today moving out of government schools. Important to note that if not for English, I would not have been able to go and address My Lords,” He remarked.

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Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan disagreed with this stand and stated that by replacing Telugu-speaking schools with English medium, a choice is being taken away from the parents and children. The state should foster its mother tongue. This is an absurd situation where minority schools and private schools can teach both languages, but government schools will only be teaching in English.

– India Legal Bureau

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