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Back to School-II
Class IX English topper can’t read a sentence
It’s all Greek to most students in Haryana govt schools
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

“The use of English is only limited to clearing the examination. Beyond this, we have no use” — A Class VIII student

Karnal/Panipat, April 25
In Government Senior Secondary School, Dheen, Nancy is a star. Having stood first in the Class IX examination, the school has a lot of expectations from her in Class X. In English, too, she bagged the first position with a score of 71 marks out of 100.

The best, however, is yet to come. Nancy cannot read out a single straight English sentence from a Class VI textbook. What’s worse is that whatever words she can read out are all Greek to her. If that’s the story of the best student of the school, one can only imagine how the others have got so far.

And, Nancy’s school is no exception in Haryana where teaching and learning English is equally cumbersome. Whether it is Government Middle School, Kail (Yamunanagar) or Government Senior Secondary School, Aurangabad, the government school in Ghir (Karnal) or the one in Baroli (Panipat), the fate of Queen’s English is sealed.

The language is richer in the sense that there are as many interpretations and pronunciations of the text as there are students in the class. No one student’s explanation matches that of the other. What’s more interesting is that they are all wrong but that’s no botheration for either the students or the teachers.

Every student has a guide to study English. It’s almost the unofficial textbook in the school which has a paragraph from the book and its translation in Hindi. Whether they carry their books to school or not, the “guide” is always there. Then, to ease up matters, teachers strongly recommend the rote method of learning and students are only to rely on that.

“The use of English is only limited to clearing the examination. Beyond this, we have no use,” Abhishek, a student at the Aurangabad school says. In Class VIII, he can still only pen down six learnt-by-heart sentences on “myself”. Students of these government schools can only as much as write their names in English which, too, is seen as a big achievement.

While the students can hardly be blamed for the poor standard of English learning, the teachers, too, want to pass the buck. “It was the government’s decision to introduce English from Class I. Nobody asked us and did so without creating a separate cadre for English teachers. In every school, teachers taking English periods up to Class X specialise in subjects other than English,” a teacher in Khuda Kalan (Ambala) justifies.

They are also unanimous in blaming the students for the status of English. “They keep moving from one class to another without getting their basics right. If we have to teach them the difference between a noun and a verb in Class X or teach them basic English, how will we complete our syllabus. We do our bit and forget the rest,” another teacher explains. Whatever the arguments and counter-arguments, English, it is apparent, is just nobody’s baby in government schools where teaching and learning Hindi, too, sometimes becomes an uphill task. (To be concluded)





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