No language is any less than Hindi or English, said Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan at a conference of Education Ministers from across the country. He said the Centre would work with State governments to frame policies, like “five fingers coming together to form a fist”.
“For the past many days, there have been many doubts over the issue of languages. All languages are national languages, whether it is Gujarati or Tamil, Punjabi or Assamese, Bengali or Marathi. No language is less than Hindi or English,” the Minister said at the two-day National Education Ministers’ conference in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The conference, which saw representations from 32 States and Union Territories, concluded on Thursday.
Dr. K. Kasturirangan, head of the drafting committee of the National Education Policy, consciously coined the term “local languages” or mother tongues such as tribal languages, and had discussed reviving them with the help of technology, Mr. Pradhan said.
The Minister spent a considerable amount of time dwelling on the Centre’s commitment to take State governments along while making policy decisions. “We have gathered here to learn from each other’s experiences and turn them into a cumulative force. This is like five fingers coming together to form a fist, so that 40% of our population, which is between the ages of three and 23 years, can become 21st century’s global citizens.”
He said during his travels around the country he had learnt from different States about innovative methods adopted by them in the field of education, such as Karnataka’s efforts to ameliorate learning losses during the pandemic, or a village in Odisha where learning material was being disseminated in the local tribal language or in Delhi where patriotism was being promoted in schools.
He also mentioned Haryana’s teacher training policy.
“You know best what are the requirements of children in your house. You will show us the way and we will work together,” he said.
The Minister also announced a new scheme called “PM Shri schools”, which he said would be a step ahead of exemplar schools such as Kendriya Vidyalaya and Navodaya Vidyalaya.
“There are a total of 15 lakh schools in the country, out of which 11 lakh are government schools. Of these, 1% will be PM Shri schools under a new scheme that will be framed after consultations with you. PM Shri schools will be a laboratory for the National Education Policy. It will set benchmarks for readying the youth of the 21st century,” he said in his address.
The Minister said that since “colonial rule was established by subjugating the education system”, it was now time to come out of slave mentality and de-colonise the system so that India could have knowledge-based leadership through school education as a foundation.
Speaking about the budgetary provisions this year for use of technology in education, he said ₹1,000 crore had been allocated, which would be used for introducing 200 TV channels, which would include a channel for each class from Class I to XII, and creating programmes for different class periods as well as virtual laboratories.