advantage... not India

An article that appeared in today's paper revealed the tragic state of primary education. The article begins with these ominous words: the scare raised by the Supreme Court on Thursday about China being poised to overtake India in English proficiency is about to come true. The article further states that just about 44% of class I children know there English alphabet. Which really translates into the fact that these children will seldom master the language, irrespective of whether they are taught English or not. Unless we do something about teaching English, we may lose an advantage we do not realise.

The reason for this deterioration is manifold: misplaced political agendas, poor teaching methods, lack of interest and so on. But whatever the reason it is ultimately the child who bears the brunt. Knowledge of English is undoubtedly a huge advantage to anyone seeking to better his or her employment opportunities. The fact that English was part of our colonial heritage should be viewed in a positive manner and not rejected. And teaching English to underprivileged kids could be the elusive leveler we all seek.

At present the teaching of English is government schools is truly abysmal. Children learn by rote and thus are never able to use the language as a communication tool or ever read a book. Alter the question slightly and the child is lost. Children may no there colours, animal names, vegetable names, and more such lists but would never be able to combine them into a sentence. In higher classes they learn there comprehension answers by heart and can change an affirmative sentence into a negative one without understanding the words! So even if on paper all looks great, the bottom line is that even with years of study of the subject children are not able to comprehend or speak English.

In today's world knowledge of English is a real advantage, it opens doors previously closed and can give you the head start you so need. And yet far from recognising this advantage, we are slowly letting it perish. Even we at project why have been overtaken by circumstances and have let our own advantage fade. Did we not begin our work almost a decade ago with spoken English classes? And was it not in answer to a need expressed by the community: Teach our children English?

It is time to wake up and salvage the advantage we have. To make course corrections and give our children the one advantage they truly need. It is really time to mutate.