In 3 yrs, English rises to No. 2 medium

While the Marathi manoos and various others fight over the supremacy of languages, English has quietly marched on and become the second largest medium in India's primary schools, after Hindi.

In 2006, English as a medium of instruction was fourth -- behind Hindi, Bengali and Marathi in that order -- but by 2007 it had climbed to second place and grew even further in 2008, beginning to eat into the Hindi numbers too (see detailed report in the latest edition of TOI-Crest).
August English
Primary School students in English medium
  2005-06 2008-09* Growth
  Haryana 0.19 1.56 721
  WB 0.29 2.31 704
  Punjab 0.93 2.78 197
  UP 0.12 0.37 193
  Rajasthan 0.75 2.10 193
  India 52.00 153.7 196
*Figures in Lakh     in %

Regional language medium schools have witnessed steady erosion in their share over the years, and in some cases even in the absolute numbers, as parents seem to have decided that English is the passport to a bright future for their children.

Data collected by the National University for Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) as a part of DISE, the monitoring system developed for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme, shows that the number of those opting for English medium from class I-VIII has grown by 150% between 2003 and 2008, while the number of students opting for Hindi grew by just 32%.

The count for 2008 is more robust than in previous years, says NUEPA. Of the total number of students surveyed by DISE, about 18.8 crore, data on the medium of instruction was available for over 92%. "The quality of data and its collection has vastly improved. However, the data pertains only to recognized schools. In most states, there are thousands of unrecognized schools, most of which are English-medium schools. Hence, the number of those studying in English-medium schools could actually be even higher," says Prof Arun Mehta of NUEPA.

The states with the highest number of students in English-medium schools have remained unchanged from 2004 till 2008 -- Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. In the two top states, almost a fifth of all enrolled students are studying in English-medium schools. The top three are followed by Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka and Kerala in that order. Madhya Pradesh is the lone Hindi-speaking state in the list of the top 10 states in terms of enrolment in English medium.

The highest jump in the number of English-medium students between 2004 and 2008 was in Maharashtra, about 11 lakh, followed by Andhra Pradesh (9.7 lakh), Tamil Nadu (9.6 lakh), Delhi (5.5 lakh) and Jammu and Kashmir about 5 lakh.

Earlier, in 2006, most of the growth in English was in the southern states, barring Punjab and Gujarat, which also showed a jump in numbers. However, by 2008, many of the northern states too have joined the rush for English schooling. For instance, Haryana has recorded the highest growth, with the number of children in English-medium schools going up more than seven times between 2004 and 2008, from over 20,000 to 1.6 lakh.

Similarly, in Rajasthan, students opting for English schooling increased more than three times, from over 60,000 in 2004 to nearly 2.2 lakh by 2008. The growth between 2007 and 2008 alone was 130%.

Again, in Madhya Pradesh, the number of students opting for English schooling almost trebled from 1.6 lakh to 4.8 lakh. In Delhi, well over a third (37%) of all enrolled children are in English-medium schools while the proportion of those in Hindi medium has fallen from 76% to 61% between 2004 and 2008. As before, Punjab and Gujarat show substantial growth in English schooling with the number doubling in Punjab and going up more than three times in Gujarat.

5 December, 2009