Model school pupils dread teaching in ‘English’ medium

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government’s ambitious model school project, launched earlier this month, seems to have hit its first hiccup with students in tribal dominated districts of the State apprehending that these schools would be out of bounds for them since it would be difficult to make the transition from Odia medium to English, the medium these schools will follow.

Going by official figures, a large number of seats in model schools in these areas still lie vacant even after completion of admission. Teachers appointed in these schools attribute the vacant seats to the prevailing apprehension among the students about the medium of instruction.

Against a total sanctioned strength of 240 seats (80 each for Classes VI, VII and VIII) for each model school, 177 students have taken admission in Semiliguda model school in Koraput district, while the numbers are 223 and 170 in case of Pottangi and Koraput model schools, respectively.

“I am excited to join the new school for the quality of education we will get here. But at the same time I am scared that I may not come out with flying colours due to the medium of instruction at the school. For the last five years, from standard I to V, we were in Odia medium schools. We were very comfortable with it because it is our mother tongue. I fear a sudden change in the medium may not yield good results for me in the examination,” said Makam Hansdah, a Class VI student of Semiliguda model school.

The modern facilities at these schools, including science laboratories and internet services, have also ‘failed’ to attract them.

“We are not well conversant in the English language. We can’t learn English overnight only to understand the technical aspects,” stated Jina Tudu, another student.

“For this, we have be very strong in English so that we can understand the subject clearly. But this is very difficult given the short learning phase as we will be loaded with a vast syllabus due to the CBSE pattern. Besides writing these papers in examination in English will be a Herculean task for us,” he grumbled.

The newly recruited teachers of these schools also feel that it is difficult for them to make the students understand the subjects in English medium.

“We know that the subjects are not very difficult for them. But the issue is they are not very comfortable with conversation in English. Besides, they are not exposed to such an atmosphere in the past. But we are hopeful that they will catch up slowly,” said a teacher of the school.

The situation is no different in model schools in tribal dominated Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Bolangir districts.

Out of the sanctioned 240 seats, only 180 students have taken admission in Bolangir Sadar model school,while the strength in Rasgovindpur model school in Mayurbhanj district stands at 190. Interestingly, the school has sent ‘reminders’ to the students, who have missed the April 12 deadline, to take admission by April 16.

Highly placed sources said all 10 schools in the district are facing student crunch in all the classes.

However, the Block Education Officers (BEO) of these districts are of the opinion that the students will be accustomed to the situation once they start attending classes regularly.

“This is not an issue. Initially, they (students) need some time to be familiar with the medium of instruction. We hope they will conversant with English very soon,” said a BEO.

Aimed at imparting quality education on the lines of Kendriya Vidyalayas to students in backward regions of the State, the Odisha government has inaugurated 100 schools in the first phase . It aims to open modle schools in all 316 Blocks of the State by the next academic session.