Mother Tongue is the Key to Education/Knowledge/Science

Mother Tongue is the Key to Education/Knowledge/Science: ‘International Opinion on Language Issues: Mother Tongue is the Key to Education, Knowledge, Science and English Learning’ provides detailed information on the findings of worldwide research and expert opinion on language matters and the current international linguistic scene.

Last month, the Government of India issued a notification which included some retrograde provisions regarding the place of Indian languages in central civil services examinations. The notification also added further to the weightage given to English language by proposing to include marks scored in the English compulsory paper to calculate merit.

This has stirred up the linguistic debate once again. The present document was written in response to the situation arising out of the Indian government‘s issuing of the notification mentioned above, a step taken a la ignorance par excellence.

The government withdrew the notification on the 15th of March due to a very stiff indictment by language experts and a strong opposition from various political circles. The discriminatory attitude of Indian elite towards Indian languages in India, however, is still worse even than that of their colonial siblings.

The language question is inseparably tied with issues of education, scientific development, knowledge in general, culture, heritage, and, very importantly, with the issue of the proper method of learning a foreign language. This document is an effort to provide a synopsis of professional international opinion on these matters.

Though the Indian languages have never been granted their rightful and essentially required status even after the British left, their plight has been worsening further and at a faster pace for the past 30 years or so. The English language is pushing Indian languages out even as medium of education in schools. Though the real reason for this is the Indian elite‘s misconceived vested interests, the following kinds of false arguments are concocted in support of this irrationality:

  1. That English is the language of science and knowledge and the mastery of English, therefore, is essential to make progress in these fields;
  2. English is the language of international communication and business and no international exchange is possible without it.

The above kinds of arguments are a result of total ignorance about the relationship between language and science, education, knowledge in general, and about the international linguistic scene. The aim of this document is to pull the mask off this ignorance.

Written by: Dr. Joga Singh; Commonwealth Scholarship Awardee (1990-93);
Professor and Former Head (2001-11), Dept. of Linguistics,
Punjabi University, Patiala, INDIA;, +919915709582

An Eye-Opening Message From a Science Teacher Varun Kumar:
“I teach Physics and Mathematics. I have attended your lectures and have been teaching Physics to children through lecturing in Punjabi. I have seen very good results among children with this. By teaching science through my mother tongue, I myself have started feeling like being a true being. Thank you very much.

I teach Physics as a tutor in a government school in Ludhiana and teach Mathematics to M.Sc students at my coaching center. The children who came to me were from government schools and because of not knowing English well. they used to consider themselves as incompetent.Mother Tongue is the Key to Education/Knowledge/Science

But I attended one of your lectures few years back at the school in Pakhoval village and since then my method of teaching have changed. I tell the children that English is not the only means to be a scientist; we can rather learn each science of the world without English. My students can tell a lot in Punjabi about any aspect of Physics and am in joy that I am producing learned scientists and learned doctors. My students won’t be the persons who are engaged in the rat race of speaking English.

I teach Main Topology and Field Theory too in Punjabi and you would be glad to know that my M.Sc. students have continuously topped in the Punjab University for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, because only those students are able to understand Topology who learn it in Punjabi. Joga ji, I have also taught Physics to Convent students. Truly, I have never seen children in such a bad shape.

What are they to know about Physics, these English medium students don’t know even English better than us;  I myself, though, have studied through Punjabi medium till 10th standard. I will become a true companion of you in your fight. I will devote my life to teach and make understand each science in Punjabi. Joga Ji, my soul shivers when I see children going in an English medium school bus. Mother Tongue is the Key to Education/Knowledge/Science.

I knew something was being wrong, but I discovered the right direction from your lecture when I listened to you in the Pakhovaal village school. Joga Ji, you will surely be successful in your goal, because you are teaching people how to be real humans. By giving them their mother tongue, you are saving them from living orphaned lives. My sentiments also go to this Convent and English medium school children. Joga Ji! Let us save them too!” ——
TO Dr. Joga Singh.

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