'Make English compulsory from class 1'
New Delhi, Jan 14: Underscoring the advantage of knowing Englishin seeking access to higher education and employment opportunities, theNational Knowledge Commission has recommended that the language betaught from Class one in schools nationwide.
English should be introduced from the beginning along with thefirst language(either the mother tongue or the regional language) ofthe child, the Commission said in its first annual report, submitted tothe Prime Minister.
Stress should be on using the language without disproportionate emphasis on grammar and rules, the Commission felt.
English should not be treated as stand-alone, add-on subject, but be integrated into the school curriculum.
''Those who do not know English well enough find it exxceedinglydifficult to compete for a place in our premier educationalinstitutionss. This disadvanatge is accentuated further in the world ofwork, not only in professional occupations but also in white-collarjobs overall,'' the Commission observed.
The panel found it surprising that English has been a part of theeducation system for more than a century, yet was beyond the reach ofmost of young people.
It said the available information suggested that lower and middleincome groups spent a large prportion of their modest income on sendingtheir children to relatively expensive English medium schools.
But there were a very large number of people who simply do nothave the resources for such investment, and the outcome is exclusion.
It noted that though nine states (of which six are in thenorth-east region) and three Union Territories had already introducedEnglish as compulsory subject from clas one onwards and as many as 12states and three Union Territories had made English a compulsorysubject at different stages, but the implementation of the decision wasslow and the quality of English language teaching not good enough.
The panel suggested that to meet the requirement for Englishteachers, graduates with high proficiency in English and goodcommunication skills should be inducted without requiring a formalteacher training.
The Commission has also recommended that language learning should not be separated from content learning.
English should be used to teach some non-language, contentsubject, starting from third standard. The choice of subject for thispurpose can be left to schools depending upon the proficiency ofteachers and availability of material, it said.
The Knowledge Commision is a high-level advisory body to the PrimeMinister. It has been mandated to guide policy and direct reforms,focusing on certain key areas such as education, science andtechnology, agriculture, industry, e-governance etc.
Easy access to knowledge, creation and preservation of knowledgesystems, dissemination of knowledge and better knowledge services arecore concerns of the commission.
The Commission was constituted on June 30, 2005 with a time-frame of three years.