A recent report confirms the link between teaching a student using English as a medium and the scope of employment opportunities as those who speak English fluently earn up to 34% more than those who don’t speak the language. But given the constraints of cost and access, the number of those studying in English medium is yet to pick up. Less than 25% of students of higher education are studying in English medium in the north central region of India, including Bihar and UP, compared to around 75% in south India.
Higher education in India anyway costs between Rs 1,200 and Rs 3, 000 a year whereas a student in an English medium school have to pay 6-8 times more, between Rs 8,000 and 15,000 a year.Therefore those who cannot afford to study in schools where English is taught as the first language suffer throughout their life trying to find employment in a country where the English is less of a language and treated more like a social status. Those who can speak fluent English are considered smarter, superior and in many ways more efficient than those who struggle at speaking this language. A person’s credentials are sometimes simply ignored only because they cannot speak the English fluently.
My friend Anupriya dropped out of college because she did not understand English , but I continue to struggle here.
Interviews were conducted in college campuses to assess how superior English speaking skills have affected the life of students. In these interviews many students were found complaining as to how their career choices have been narrowed down because they failed to speak the language correctly. Jyoti Rathore studying Economics in Delhi University said,” My friend Anupriya dropped out of college because she did not understand English , but I continue to struggle here.”
Garima, member of Progressive and Democratic student community (PDSC) , AUD said ,” Most of the lectures, seminars and talks are conducted in English. Some students loudly voice their opinions on topics like oppressed identities , caste, class , Marx and Ambedkar , while their are some students from Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi who’ve managed to get here but stay silent.”
Ajeet Kumar pursuing a Master’s degree in History under Delhi University said, ”If we differentiate between languages and subjects here, then we won’t be able to concentrate on either one .”The official languages of Delhi are English, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi yet, most universities in Delhi offer courses and exams only in English.
The emphasis on English puts many students especially from smaller towns and deprived communities , at a disadvantage because most of them cannot speak in English .
Therefore the students are rising against such discrimination and they are placing demands to help the non -English speakers feel equal and also be treated equally to the people who can speak in English.
These students have placed certain demands in front of the college authorities :
- They want regular remedial classes to help understand lectures conducted in English.
- Bridge classes to learn English.
- Translation of course material.
- Seminars and lectures should be organised in other languages other than English.
It doesn’t depend on the student whether they will be sent to a school where English is considered as the first language or whether they will study in a school where English is treated as a second or third language. It has been years since fluency in a language has clipped the wings of a thousand students who had the will and determination to study and prosper in life. It is time we value idea rather than just focusing on what language people use to express their ideas.
You can watch this video posted by The Wire to see how students have reacted to the scenario.