Sep 28th 2015 : The Times of India (Rema Nagarajan, TNN)  

Number of children studying in English doubles in 5 years



Politicians might try hard to push Hindi, but people are voting with their feet, opting to put their children in English-medium schools. While overall enrolment in schools went up by just 7.5% between 2008-09 and 2013-14, and enrolment in Hindi-medium schools went up by about 25%, enrolment in English-medium schools almost doubled in the same period.

While the number of English-medium school students is still dwarfed by those in Hindi-medium, the growth in the English numbers is significant, jumping from over 1.5 crore in 2008-09 to 2.9 crore by 2013-14. In the same period, the Hindi numbers went from 8.3 crore to 10.4 crore.

Interestingly, the highest growth in English-medium enrolment was in the Hindi-speaking states. It was highest in Bihar, where it grew 47 times or 4,700% while Hindi-medium enrolment grew by just 18%. In Uttar Pradesh, English-medium enrolment grew 10 times or by over 1,000% compared to just 11% in Hindi-medium enrolment. In other Hindi speaking states too English medium enrolment grew massively -- Haryana 525%, Jharkhand 458%, Rajasthan 209% and so on.

These trends are based on data received from 14.5 lakh schools spread over 662 districts across 35 states and union territories. The data received from the states is put together by the District Information System for Education (DISE) of the National University of Education Planning and Administration under the human resource development ministry. Since 2010-11, DISE has been covering unrecognised schools and recognised and unrecognised madrasas, which in 2013-14 comprised 2.4% of all schools. While there is some underreporting of enrolment by medium of instruction, as acknowledged by DISE, the undercounting is not seem big enough to affect the overall picture.

UP and Bihar make up 53% of the students enrolled in Hindi medium schools. Add Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and these four states account for more than three quarters of Hindi-medium students, close to eight crore. If the other three Hindi speaking states -- Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Haryana -- are added to this, it would account for 90% of those in Hindi-medium, leaving about one crore children in Hindi-medium schools in the rest of the country. Of the 2.9 crore English-medium students, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir, in that order, make up over 54%.

In Haryana, the proportion of children in Hindi-medium fell by 25 percentage points in one decade from 97% in 2003-04 to 72% in 2013-14 while it fell from 94% to 70% in Himachal Pradesh. However, the biggest decline in proportion of children enrolled in vernacular medium schools was in Kerala and Punjab, where it fell by 40 percentage points. In Kerala, the share of Malayalam-medium students fell during the decade from 90% to almost 50% and in Punjab the share of those in Punjabi-medium fell from over 99% to 59%. In Andhra Pradesh, the proportion of Telugu-medium fell by 30 percentage points and in Tamil Nadu the share of Tamil-medium fell by 24 percentage points.

The highest proportion of English-medium enrolment was in Jammu and Kashmir, where almost all students are in English-medium schools. In north-eastern states like Nagaland, Sikkim and Manipur, the share of English-medium is above 80-90%. In Kerala and Delhi, nearly half the enrolment is in English-medium schools. Other states where English-medium has a significant share are Andhra Pradesh (44%), Tamil Nadu (41%) and Himachal (30%).