CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to respond within eight weeks to a PIL by a former DMK MLA, seeking a direction to introduce spoken English as a compulsory subject in government schools.
A division bench, comprising Justices Vineet Kothari and Anita Sumanth, before which the petition filed by the former MLA Appavu came up, said it is a matter of the state education policy and the court cannot exercise its power under Article 226 of the Constitution.
“So we are of the opinion that the Secretary of the School Education Department decide on the representation given by the petitioner after giving due opportunity of hearing to the petitioner within a period of eight weeks,”the bench said.
Appavu submitted that there are about 37,211 government schools, 8,403 government aided schools and 12,419 private self-financing schools such as matriculation and CBSE schools in Tamil Nadu, imparting education to about 1.25 crore students.
In these 12,419 private schools alone, there are about 40 lakh students, he said.
The state government was spending Rs 27,000 crore for the purpose of education per annum, Appavu said.
He said English is taught as a second language in Tamil Nadu as per the education policy from Class 2 to 12 and in Tamil medium in the government, aided and un-aided schools.
A student, even after successfully completing plus two with very good marks, was unable to speak or understand English found it difficult to communicate or write the language fluently.
This difficulty poses practical problems for those who pursue professional courses and other degree courses in various institutions as they have to learn in English,he said.
The classes too were conducted only in English in professional and degree courses, the petitioner said
Students who pursue school education in English medium under CBSE schools find it very easy to understand, communicate and mingle with other students as well as with the faculty, unlike tamil medium students, he said.
This inability continues even in work places.
Therefore, a need has arisen to give emphasis to spoken English in all Tamil medium government, aided and un-aided schools from primary to higher secondary level by introducing it as a compulsory subject from the second standard to the 12thstandard, he added.
Appavu said there were no LKG and UKG classes in state board schools, but only from the first standard, resulting in loss of enrolment in primary schools in state board.
Due to poor enrolment in state board, about 1,311 primary schools were functioning with less than 10 students and about 3,400 primary schools with less than 15 students.
If it was allowed to continue, all state government schools would be closed one day and education would go to the hands of private parties, he said.
Hence it was necessary to introduce LKG and UKG classes in all government run primary schools to avoid closure of schools, he submitted.