Need ‘pragmatic policy’ to encourage mother tongue in schools: VP 

Ahmedabad: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today called for a “pragmatic policy” to encourage the use of mother tongue in schools, but rued that not “enough attention” was paid to ensure children learn at least one language during their schooling.
Naidu was addressing the inaugural session of a two-day international conference on ‘The Journey of Indian Languages: Perspectives on Culture and Society’, jointly organised by the Dr B R Ambedkar Open University and the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

“We must continuously strive to promote the use of all languages and encourage literary figures to produce new works.

However, the current scenario in the country is a little disturbing.

“Not enough attention is being paid to ensure that children master at least one language well during their schooling stage,” Naidu said.

He said surveys have found that children exhibit “poor, unsustainable literacy skills,” and the situation has to be remedied.

“Many children are dropping out, especially in tribal areas, because they are taught in a different language from what they speak at home. Language can be a barrier as well. We should have a pragmatic policy to encourage mother tongue at the early stages of schooling and gradually move on to other languages,” he said.

“It will be much more challenging to build a knowledge based economy with such poor foundational literacy skills,” he said.

Naidu called languages “the reality of lives around us, the cultural context,” and “the window to the collective consciousness and culture of people”. He also urged scholars to explore linguistic research areas to understand “social challenges associated with language teaching and learning.”

He praised the journey behind the evolution of modern Indian languages. “I would like to say that modern Indian languages have had a rich journey starting primarily from its roots in classical languages.

“According to one study, India, with 780 languages, has the world’s second highest number of languages, after Papua New Guinea where people use 839 languages,” he further said.