Skip to main content

Medium of teaching: Majority Kerala migrant children 'favour' Malayalam, parents English

By Vignesh M* 
At a time when migrant children are transitioning their education through a difficult phase, the education policy discussions were primarily on providing di
gital accessibility. However, non-coordinated and unplanned efforts altogether avoided the discussions on the medium of instruction (MoI) that critically affects the learning of migrant children.
The interstate migrant community is an unrecognized linguistic minority in national policy discussions. National Education Policy 2020 provided no attention to the aspects of MoI concerning migrant children. Going through related policy documents, though they mention children of intrastate seasonal migrants, the children of interstate migrants are wholly overlooked. It is pointing to the urgent need to address the concerns of children of interstate migrant workers.
To study the concerns relating to the education of the interstate migrant community, the author conducted primary research on 31 interstate migrant families consisting of 73 children in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. The following observations are from the inference of the above study.

Status quo: Identity and reality

In the sample population, families had scheduled languages such as Bengali, Tamil and Hindi and non-scheduled languages such as Marwari and Bhojpuri as their mother tongue. National Education Policy 2020 articulates that “wherever possible the medium of instruction in schools until Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language… All efforts will be made early on to ensure that any gaps that exist between the language spoken by the child and the medium of teaching are bridged”.
Among the government and aided primary schools covered for the study, English and Malayalam were the MoI. So far, the state of Kerala has not ensured the education for migrant children in their mother tongue. The state neither has ensured linguistic capabilities in teacher appointments in migrant children enrolled schools nor has the state provided multilingual training to teachers. Though the teachers observe the language barrier as the most serious issue, they have not yet requested multilingual training.
But as a sign of hope, the Ernakulam district administration addressing the above concerns is executing a Project Roshni for the education of migrant children. Multilingual volunteers appointed in the project can comprehend and speak in Malayalam and the major regional language of the children such as Hindi, Bengali and Tamil. Some of the volunteers are migrants whereby being better equipped to assist the migrant children. But, in some schools, the number of mother tongues of children is going up to half a dozen, making mother tongue-based classroom execution a challenging task.
Though officially majority of the children are enrolled in schools with English as the MoI, the reality is that the classroom interactions are predominantly in Malayalam. This indicates that no matter what the official MoI is in the school, migrant children need to be equipped with adequate Malayalam linguistic ability. Looking into the Malayalam proficiency of the migrant community, among the fathers, 68% can comprehend, 18% can read and write, and 57% can speak Malayalam.
Among the mothers, due to their relatively lesser exposure outside the home, only 42% can comprehend, 10% can read and write, and 35% can speak Malayalam. With migrant children born here to those who have migrated here in their 9th standard, their Malayalam proficiency is of varying degrees showing the magnitude of the situation. Among the children, 79% can comprehend and speak, and 64% can read and write Malayalam.
Though most children are better equipped in Malayalam than their parents, they still face difficulty in comprehending classroom interactions as they have varied learning paces. Migrant children fundamentally face three challenges on a linguistic basis. One, no age-appropriate language bridge courses are being provided to them based on their learning level. Two, as parents are not proficient in Malayalam, children have nobody to get help from home.
Amid pandemic, when primary education is being run online, it is vital to listen to migrant community on what urgently needs to be done
Many migrant children mentioned that though their fathers are relatively better equipped in Malayalam than their mothers, but are not assisting them. Third, due to poor Malayalam linguistic ability, 32% of the migrant children are forced to enrol in a lower grade not age-appropriate.
Among them, some are late enrolled, and some are forced to repeat the same grade which they finished in their native state on the instruction of either parent or teacher. Such ill practices of not following age-appropriate enrolment often lead to the dropout of children before completing their secondary education. It is often pushing to child labour and child marriage.

Preferred and actual future

On preferred MoI for migrant children, the parents and children shared a divergent perspective. Among the 51 migrant children who responded, 56% favoured Malayalam, 34% favoured English, and only 10% favoured their mother tongue as the preferred MoI. The majority who preferred Malayalam stated that they choose it primarily because their friends speak it.
Further, even children preferred Malayalam just to be a Malayali as 25% of children remarked that they face discrimination from their peers, calling their linguistic identities such as Bengali kutty or Bhai kutty. Among the children who favoured English, they mentioned that learning Malayalam is difficult as there is nobody to support them back at home. An observation from the field was that among the families with two or more children, elder ones preferred Malayalam, and younger ones preferred English, indicating the evolution they are undergoing, be it academic or social.
Among the 43 parents who responded, 60% favoured English, 20% favoured mother tongue, and 11% favoured Malayalam as their preferred MoI. The majority prefer English by commenting that as they are migrants and as often they are forced to migrate to newer destinations, only English will be of any help to children’s future. Some mothers even commented that they could assist children as at least they know the English alphabet.
About 74% of parents remarked that no matter what the formal MoI in school is, as children are pushed to learn Malayalam, it is essential to establish a bridge course in Malayalam based on their age and learning level. Further, as mothers have a prime role in assisting children, they commented on the need to strengthen Changathy, the existing literacy programme for the migrant community in Kerala.
Amid this pandemic, when primary education is still being run online, it is vital to listen to the migrant community on what urgently needs to be done. Migrant parents observed that as over an academic year has gone virtually, children had lost their linguistic skills in Malayalam as they have no platforms to practice it.
Reading it along with the fact that parents are poorly skilled to help children, till physical classes restart, mother tongue-based classes should be ensured in their localities with the collaboration of linguistic and academic experts. Further, as schools resume, adequate multilingual teaching ability of teachers need to be ensured. Finally, the state of Kerala needs to scale up project Roshni to the rest of the districts.
Here the adequate representation of educated migrant members should be ensured, as scholars have observed that a shared demographic background decreases the cultural distance between migrants and the school.
---
*Masters in Public Policy graduate, National Law School of India University, Bangalore

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

'Drop all falsed charges': 150 citizens demand early release of AltNews co-founder

Counterview Desk  About 150 concerned citizens have demanded the release of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checkng newsportal AltNews, arrested over a 2018 tweet which allegedly hurt religious sentiments, even as booking for criminal conspiracy and having received foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). Denied bail last weekend and sent to 14-day judicial custody, the concerned citizens, in a statement, regretted that while the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Delhi police on a petition filed on behalf of Zubair challenging the legality and propriety of his police remand and the seizure of his electronic devices, the “frivolous case” continues. Excerpts: The illegal arrest of Mr. Mohammed Zubair happened on June 27, 2022, by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity over a tweet from 2018. The IPC Sections included 153(a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race,

Chennai residents 'suffering': Faulty design, implementation of storm water project

By NS Venkataraman*  The Greater Chennai Corporation is now implementing storm water drainage project in 559 roads, covering a distance of 1033 kilometres, which cost around Rs 4,070 crore. For this massive project, which is targeted to be completed between April and September this year, huge loan has been availed from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others. Several technocrats have pointed out that the project has been designed with outdated technology and quality of the implementation is so poor that the residents have been put to great hardships. As part of the project, digging of the road has been done to around 5 to 6 feet deep and width of around 4 to 5 feet. The drains are being constructed using steel reinforced cement concrete with two walls on either side with provisions for manhole, chute etc. This has been done in front of several houses leaving little space between the gate of the house and that of the drainage structure. As the work has been going on for mor

Prime Minister's 'affordable' housing policy fails to help Gujarat slum dwellers: Study

By Rajiv Shah  A new study on the implementation of one of the major policy initiatives for the urban poor by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), has said that in Gujarat, which happens to be the Prime Minister’s home state, has quoted state officials as “confirming” that no progress towards tenure regularization, a key requirement for providing housing to the state’s slum dwellers. Stating that this particularly true of smaller town, the study, carried out by the non-profit Homes in the City (HIC), which is based in Bhuj, district headquarter of Kutch that saw a devastating earthquake in 2001, says, the failure to provide affordable housing is there despite the fact that there has been “significant demand” in all the 83 out of 153 Gujarat municipalities studied by experts involved in the study. According to the study, out f a total of 1.41 lakh demands for housing under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) category, 94,232 (66.7%)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

'Contractor-official nexus led to RTI activist's murder': Fact-finding team seeks probe

Courtyard inside of PWD office where Ranjeet Soni was killed Counterview Desk  A fact-finding team* visited Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh (MP) on June 19, 2022 to meet with the family of Ranjeet Soni, who was shot dead on June 2, 2022 inside the premises of the PWD office in Vidisha. The objective was to gather information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ranjeet Soni and his work on exposing corruption through the use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A report prepared by the team members says that Ranjeet had been extensively using the RTI Act to access information from the government, and upon receiving documents showing misuse of public funds or corruption, he was filing complaints to various authorities including the Lokyukta, Publi Works Department (PWD) and the Chief Minister’s Office. It notes, Ranjeet used to work as a contractor and often undertook government works in collaboration with other contractors, including those being investigated for his murder. A f

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization