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NEP and mother tongue

Editorial CAITLYN SAMPLEY AGGIE


The Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education has started the process to implement the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Recently, the Board organised a workshop to initiate translation of textbooks of environmental studies from class 3rd to 5th and Mathematics from class 1st to 5th in four official languages including Urdu, Dogri, Kashmiri and Hindi. Chairperson, JK BOSE, Professor Veena Pandita complimented the academic team for taking the lead in translating the textbooks into four official languages for teaching primary classes. Translating the books into regional languages is a welcome move. Mother tongue is generally understood as the language a child acquires through her parents and people around her or the language of the locality where the school is located. Therefore, the NEP’s recommendation rightly states that “wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother-tongue/local language/regional language”. The state of Kashmiri language is known to us all. Kashmir is facing neglect at the hands of its own. While most of the Kashmiris can speak it, majority of them can neither read nor write in it. This is happening even as research has proven that mother tongue not only develops a child’s personal and social identity, it also helps them develop their critical thinking and literacy skills. This results in acquiring a better understanding of the curriculum. From a linguistic point of view, all languages are equal. Mother tongues have been handed down ancestrally from centuries and preserved among successive generations with their distinctive vocabularies and parlances. It all starts from home and then schools. The teaching and learning of Kashmiri in the schools should be enriched by the inclusion of cultural activities in the curriculum, and an increased focus on the need to understand the beauty of the Perso-Arabic script. There is no denying the importance of English as a common means of communication across the globe, or its strength as the first foreign language of choice. While it is applaudable that they have a good command on these two languages, being conversant in our mother tongue is a great way to stay connected to our roots. Nothing is more facilitating in knowledge acquisition than the expression of ideas in the language one is born and brought up. The children grasp the essence of non-trivial concepts in their own local language quickly and providing texts in their mother tongue shall be a potent medium to use the power of language in enhancing the competence of learners. Translation is a nuanced process of knowledge transaction and needs utmost care and expertise so that the soul and essence of the source language is appropriately conveyed in the target language.