Perhaps for the first time after staking claim to the powerful seat, a majority of detractors and opponents of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy are on his side, thanks to his decision of introducing English as medium of instruction in government schools. The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) president had announced that all the government schools in the state will have to mandatorily follow English instead of Telugu to impart lessons in various subjects in the near future. There are about 45,000 government schools in the state, and from next academic year, class 1 to VI will be made English medium. After that, with every progressing academic year, a higher class will be brought under this fold.
This move of Jagan had immediately invited criticism from top opposition leaders of the state.
Leader of opposition and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu said YSRCP government was imposing English on young minds and this can have undesirable repercussions like Telugu language losing its identity. Actor and Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan went a step ahead and requested Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan to intervene and halt Jagan’s plan of introducing English as the medium of instruction in government schools. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, who was the AP BJP president, also stressed that the foundation should be laid through Telugu language for school children.
In his recent comeback, the chief minister asked all these three leaders where their children studied. He said that it was hypocrisy from the part of leaders to expect poor children to study in Telugu medium while they send their children to English medium schools.
What followed was surprising as except for top political leaders, the common citizen seems to echo the opinion of Jagan. On social media, there were a number of posts from TDP and Pawan Kalyan followers, hailing Jagan’s move. Identifying themselves as critics of Jagan and followers of opposition party leaders, the users praised Jagan for his visionary move. Notable was also some posts by youngsters belonging to the SC and ST communities who said they lagged behind in the competition because they had a Telugu medium background.
An upbeat chief minister on Thursday once again took to the stage and highlighted his idea. On the occasion of Children’s Day, he listed out a number of initiatives that would give a facelift to government schools and help them compete with private and corporate institutions. He launched ‘Nadu-Nedu’ programme that will improve infrastructure and amenities in government schools.
In the first phase, the scheme, with an annual budget of Rs 3,500 crore, will be implemented in 15,715 government schools. He said his decisions with respect to the education sector were born out of people’s grievances and interactions during his 3,600km Padayatra which he undertook over a period of more than 16 months.
As part of the scheme, focus will be on nine parameters, including provision of lights, fans, blackboards, furniture and compound wall, construction of toilets, repairs and painting of classrooms, providing safe drinking water and provision for English labs. According to government sources, From January 1, teachers will undergo training to transform themselves into English medium teachers. The education department is already in talks to tie-up with NGOs and private institutions in this regard.