Thursday, January 5, 2012

Handling Language Difference

Under 'Every Child Counts' campaign, we are talking of enrolling migrant labourers' children into schools. Many of the migrant labourers in Pune are observed to be non-Maharashtrians. That means their mother-tongue is not Marathi. However, most of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) schools are of Marathi-medium. When we approach parents (migrant labourers) for enrolling their children into PMC schools, these questions are raised by them -

- How will our (non-Marathi) child understand what Marathi teachers are teaching?
- What is the use of our children learning Marathi if we are going back to our native place after this work is over?
- The child will have to start from scratch again when we move back to Karnataka/Rajasthan/Bihar/Andhra, etc. Isn't Marathi learning a waste of time then?

- Why should our child learn Marathi when our mother-tongue is Telugu/Kannada/Tamil/Bengali/Hindi, etc?

So, how do we handle this?

We have observed that children do not have much difficulty in learning new languages. They can adopt to new language much faster than adults. It is the parents' fear that Marathi-medium will become an obstacle in their child's learning. Mentioned below are some arguments that we use to convince such parents:

1. A school-going child learns how to learn, whether in its native language or other. Even if the family moves back to their native place, the child will be in a 'learning mode', which will help it adjust and pick-up with education from that point onwards.

2. If the family stays here for 4-5 years or more, the child has to know the local language, i.e. Marathi, for all practical purposes. Hence, the child going to Marathi school will actually help it and its family in making their stay more comfortable here.

3. The script of Marathi is Devanagari which is same as Hindi. So, a child who can read/write Marathi can read/write Hindi, as well. And Hindi being the common language across India, learning Marathi will never be a waste.

These arguments will definitely help all citizens who are going to interact with the parents for enrolling their children in schools.

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