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CBSE writes to affiliated schools on the medium of instruction and multilingual education, emphasises the importance of using the mother tongue

CBSE remarked that, in view of the above challenges, the Ministry of Education, Government of India, has taken several measures to promote education through Indian languages as the medium of instruction.

On Friday, 21st July 2023, Dr Joseph Emmanuel, the Director (Academics) of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) New Delhi, wrote a letter to all the CBSE affiliated schools regarding the medium of instruction and the importance of using the mother tongue. The letter emphasised the value of multilingual education and its positive impact on linguistic diversity, cultural understanding, and academic success among students.

The letter said, “Multilingual education has been widely recognised as a valuable approach to fostering linguistic diversity, cultural understanding, and academic success among students. The National Education Policy 2020, in paragraph 4.12, emphasises the significant cognitive advantages of multilingualism for young learners, particularly when they are exposed to multiple languages from the foundational stage, with a specific focus on their mother tongue. The policy strongly advocates for utilizing the home language, mother tongue, local language, or regional language as the medium of instruction whenever feasible, at least until Grade 5, but preferably extending till Grade 8 and beyond.”

It further said, “The implementation of multilingual education and the utilisation of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction presents several challenges including the availability of skilled teachers capable of teaching in multilingual settings, the creation of high-quality multilingual textbooks, and the limited time available, especially in two-shift government schools, as multilingual education demands additional instructional time allocation.”

CBSE remarked that, in view of the above challenges, the Ministry of Education, Government of India, has taken several measures to promote education through Indian languages as the medium of instruction. One significant step is the direction to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for preparing new textbooks through 22 scheduled Indian languages, making them available to all students from the next academic sessions.

The letter added that higher education has also started adapting to this need by producing textbooks in Indian languages and initiating the learning-teaching process through Indian language mediums, alongside English mediums. Even examinations in technical education, medical education, vocational education, skill education, law education, etc., are now conducted in Indian languages.

Highlighting the importance of continuity, the letter mentioned that since higher education is responding to this need, school education must become its foundation. Therefore, schools affiliated with CBSE need to play a vital role in promoting education through Indian languages.

Concluding the letter, the Director (Academics) mentioned, “In view of the above initiatives taken to facilitate education through Indian languages, the CBSE affiliated schools may consider using Indian languages, as enumerated in the Schedule 8 of the Indian Constitution, as the medium of Instruction from Foundational Stage till the end of Secondary Stage i.e. from pre-primary classes till class XII as an optional medium in addition to other existing options. Schools may explore the available resources, consult with experts in the field, and collaborate with other schools to share best practices to make multilingual education in CBSE schools a reality.”

Meanwhile, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan lauded the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for encouraging its affiliated schools to use Indian languages (mother tongue) as a medium of instruction and adapting multilingual education adhering to the vision of National Education Policy, 2020.

Minister Pradhan tweeted, “Well done CBSE. This is a laudatory step towards encouraging education in the mother tongue and Indian languages in schools. NEP in action.”

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