Some educators feel with the new format, there will be hesitancy among non-Karnataka students to join colleges here
BENGALURU: The state government’s rule to make Kannada compulsory for four semesters in three-year degree programmes as per the new National Education Policy (NEP) has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Many private colleges that draw non-Karnataka pupils said the mandate has caused concerns among students.
A top college in the city said one concern raised by the new batch was regarding Kannada. “For our students from the north and northeast, four semesters of Kannada might not be useful. While we believe two semesters of functional Kannada will be extremely beneficial, the four-semester mandate is going to rob the student the chance to learn a language he or she might need for their future education or career,” said a lecturer from the college.
As per the new format of degree courses that will come into effect from academic year 2021-22, students have to learn Kannada in four semesters plus an additional language with their majors and electives. It can be any language the college offers. The GO states textbooks for Kannada speakers and non-native speakers will have to be different.
“The concern is also about other language departments. With Kannada and another language being mandatory, many students might prefer English as the latter. What happens to active foreign language departments like French and German or other languages like Sanskrit, Tamil or Urdu? The workload of lecturers changes dramatically,” pointed out a lecturer.
“We fear there will be hesitancy among non-Karnataka students to join colleges in the state,” said KH Anil Kumar, professor and director of Karnataka College of Management, where 25-30% students are from other states.
At a recent meeting with vice-chancellors and select college principals on NEP at Karnataka State Higher Education Council, some college heads suggested the government change the rule of teaching Kannada as a functional language, like is being practised for engineering courses at Visvesvaraya Technological University. VTU students are taught Kannada for functional use in one semester and the subject carries only two credits, whereas the four-semester Kannada being prescribed for three-year degree courses has 12 credits.
“The old scheme of things should continue for languages. Additionally, students who do not opt for Kannada must learn functional Kannada for two semesters. In case a student opts for Kannada and another language other than English, s/he should learn functional English for two semesters. With this, students will be able to balance all the languages,” said a college principal.
A member of the Council said these decisions are political. “While NEP promises greater flexibility, isn’t this curtailing students’ choices,” asked a teacher.
MK Shridhar, who was on the drafting committee of NEP, chooses to differ. “NEP asks to give emphasis to regional languages in whatever way possible. The question is whether the spirit of the policy is taken care of or not. The others are just matters of details. Even while a student is given flexibility, there should be a framework for the system,” he said.