Andhra Pradesh Assembly clears English medium Bill for a second time

The Bill had already been passed by the Assembly in December but faced a hurdle in the Legislative Council where the opposition TDP has a majority.
Andhra Pradesh Assembly clears English medium Bill for a second time
Andhra Pradesh Assembly clears English medium Bill for a second time
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The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Thursday ratified the Bill for making English medium mandatory in all government schools for a second time in two months. The Assembly has proposed to suitably amend the AP Education Act, 1982, as per the Bill to incorporate the necessary provisions related to English medium of instruction.

The Bill had already been passed by the Assembly during the winter session in December, but faced a hurdle in the Legislative Council, where the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has a majority. Several council members opposed the Bill, suggesting amendments which included making English and Telugu medium available in all government schools, allowing students or parents to choose between the two. However, the Assembly passed the Bill for a second time, rejecting the amendments.

Speaking in the Assembly, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy said, “It’s unfortunate that this Bill was blocked in the Council. But they can’t do anything … We are ratifying the Bill again, even if they object again, there is no use.”

He went on to say that parents of SC, ST, minorities and socio-economically backward communities who were unable to afford English medium education in private schools had been eagerly waiting for this move for decades. Out of nearly 45,000 government schools, CM Jagan said that less than 35 percent schools were English medium, whereas 98.5 percent of private schools had English medium instruction.

The decision to make English medium instruction mandatory saw severe opposition on various grounds, including that of preserving the Telugu language. Some groups also criticised the government for taking such a huge step without sufficient groundwork, while others complained that the move could adversely affect poor children and lead to dropouts.

The criticism has been countered by many, particularly Dalit groups, who argued that access to English medium education is a step towards increased opportunities for children from socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

While the government had issued an order in November that English medium would be introduced from class 1 to 8 in all government schools from the academic year 2020-21, after continued opposition, it was soon announced that only classes 1 to 6 would be converted to English medium in the first phase, adding one class to English medium in each subsequent year.

In December, the High Court objected to the move while hearing two separate PILs challenging the government order. The petitioners had argued that the move was a violation of the RTE Act and that children and parents must have the right to select their medium of instruction. The court has asked the government to file a counter-affidavit spelling out the reason for the move. 

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