English from Class I, but are there enough teachers?

May 13th, 2008 - 11:44 am ICT by admin  

By Asit Srivastava
Lucknow, May 13 (IANS) An acute shortage of teachers in government-run schools across Uttar Pradesh may stymie the state government’s plan to introduce English as a subject from Class 1. The state government announced the plan Saturday, but “at present, about 150,000 teachers are required in nearly 125,000 government-run primary schools in the state,” Basic Education Teachers Association (BETA) vice-president Ram Teerath Mishra told IANS here. “Nearly half of the primary schools in the state are single-teacher schools.”

There are fewer primary school teachers than primary schools run by the government in some districts, including Bahraich, Shrwasti and Lalitpur. “It would have been better if the government had first recruited the teachers required in the primary schools before taking the decision,” said Mishra.

Going by the recommendations of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the Mayawati government has decided to introduce English from Class 1. Earlier it was taught from Class 3 in government-run schools.

The state government said that Class 3 was too late to introduce a language, keeping in mind the social background of the majority of students.

But members of various teachers associations apprehend that the government’s move will affect the quality of teaching. “Introduction of English (from Class 1) will add to the responsibilities of the teachers who are already overburdened. This in turn will take its toll on quality of teaching,” said another BETA representative who did not want to be identified.

Teachers are of the view that the state government is still not clear about the methodology for teaching the English language in Class 1. “An altogether different pedagogy is required to teach kids. This becomes more important if one wants to teach a foreign language to a student and that too of Class 1,” said Om Prakash, state president of the Madhyamik Education Teachers’ Association (META) .

D.C. Kannaujia, director of basic education in the state government, responded by saying: “We are trying to fill the void of the teachers in the primary schools. Shortly, the guidelines to teach English to Class 1 students will be formulated and the teachers will be briefed about it.”

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