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What is Three-Language formula? A brief analysis

As we know that the New Education Policy 2020 has supported the Three-Language policy. Let us have a look in detail about Three- Language formula and a comparative analysis of two Language policy of Tamil Nadu with Singapore.
Sep 16, 2020 17:12 IST
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Three-Language Formula
Three-Language Formula

The New Education Policy 2020 has supported the three-language policy. But the Tamil Nadu has rejected the three-language formula in NEP 2020. And says that it will stick to the existing policy of two languages. For the past 50 years, Tamil Nadu has been following two language formula and is able to achieve significant positive social and economic changes.

What is Three-Language formula?

It was first incorporated in the National Education Policy 1968 by the Indira Gandhi government. 

In Hindi-speaking states English, Hindi, and a modern Indian language.
Non-Hindi speaking states: English, Hindi, and one Indian language.

It was incorporated because the teaching system across several regions was not uniform in the country. Also, Hindi was the general medium of instruction in the north, regional languages and English were the medium of instruction in other parts. However, it leads to chaos and generated difficulties for inter-state communication. 

The three-language formula sought to serve three functions namely, accomodating group identity, affirming national unity, and increasing administrative efficiency. 

In 1968, the three-language formula was implemented across the country, barring Tamil Nadu that adopted a two-language policy.

Incidentally, the NPE 1986 does not make any change in the 1968 policy on three-language formula and the promotion of Hindi and repeated it verbatim.

About the progress of Three-Language Formula

Education is the state subject and so the implementation of the formula also lay with the states. Only a few states adopted the formula in principle. In several Hindi-speaking states, Sanskrit became the third language instead of any modern language mainly in the south Indian language. Therefore, the purpose of the three-language formula was defeated to promote inter-state communications. Also, in a non-Hindi speaking state like Tamil Nadu adopted a two-language policy and did not implement the three-language formula. And since then, in Tamil Nadu two-language policy is working. In two languages one is English and the other is Tamil.

New Education Policy 2020: Facts at a Glance

What was the reason for opposing the Hindi Language historically by Tamil Nadu?

The first reason is that language is a vehicle to protect the culture of that particular place and is protected by the civil society and politicians of the State. If any attempt is taken at diluting the importance of the Tamil language can be viewed as an attempt at homogenisation of culture. Also, one of the reasons for opposing the Hindi Language is that many in Tamil Nadu see it as a fight to retain English. There, the English language is well-known language of empowerment and knowledge. 

Certain sections of the society impose the Hindi language because they felt that it will lead to the elimination of English which is a global link language. However, voluntary learning of the Hindi language has never been restricted in the State. The only compulsion is met with resistance.

Three Language Formula according to NEP 2020

- As a medium of instruction: Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond it will be the home language/mother-tongue/local language/regional language. 

- The three-language formula will continue to be implemented to promote multilingualism as well as promote national unity.

- NEP states that there will be greater flexibility in the three-language formula. But no language will be imposed on any State. 

- To learn three languages will be the choice of States, regions, and students themselves, as long as at least two of the three languages are native to India. 

According to the HRD Ministry of Education, the three-language formula will continue to be implemented in schools "with greater flexibility" but "no language will be imposed on any state." 

What do experts say about the three-language policy?

This version has received quite some praise. As per Sridhar Rajagopalan, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer, Educational Initiatives, This approach have a lot of benefits. Pedagogical research has established beyond much doubt that children learn best if they learn in their mother tongue or local language in the primary classes."

He also added that “This does not mean that children should not learn English, it only means that English should not be the medium of instruction in the primary years. The medium of instruction should be the language that is most prevalent in the child's surroundings." “In several European universities, Sanskrit is being explored as a coveted academic discipline."

According to IIT Kharagpur Director VK Tewari, “The emphasis on primary education in regional languages and the introduction of Sanskrit, following the three-language formula, will turn out to be a great boon to the people of the country especially in the rural areas."

As per IFIM Business School Chairman Sanjay Padode, “Whilst everyone is quite enthralled about the liberal framework, I am highly impressed with the recommendation of conducting the foundation years in the mother tongue." He also added that “this will surely help our students learn the basic concepts quickly without having to deal with an alien language."

According to Aekta Nandwana Chanda, Technical Specialist Education, ChildFund India, “Promotion of mother tongue in education system till class 5 as a medium of instruction is a very welcome step but teaching-learning material is actually available in few standard languages only, so investments would be required on more content in most of the languages including the tribal languages."

List of Important Schemes launched by the Modi Government

Now let us have a look at a comparison of two Language Policy of Tamil Nadu with Singapore.

1. In Singapore, it was the mission of Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of modern Singapore. It provides equal status to English and mother tongue as a prerequisite not only to work closely with the international community.
In Tamil Nadu, it was the decision of C.N Annadurai. He realised that beyond Tamil and English, no other language would be taught in the schools of Tamil Nadu wither as a language or medium of instruction.

2. Mainly of the success of two language formula, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore attributed the international acclaim. He believed that the lingua franca of the country should be equidistant to all cultural groups. Therefore, it creates fair competition and opportunities.
According to Annadurai, all the national languages should be made official languages and English should be the common link language. He focused that the official language should be equidistant to all the members of a multilingual society.

3. The observation of Annadurai as a language policy for 'the Dravidian land' is not implemented in India but was actually implemented in Singapore by Lee Kuan Yew. 

4. At present or even today, the population of Hindi-speaking people has not crossed 50% in India. 
In Singapore, 74.2% of the population of Chinese and 13.3% Malays, and 9.2% Indians.

5. In terms of development, the world celebrates Lee Kuan Yew's decision. It was taken after considering the possibilities, limitations, and challenges that were faced by a third world country. They praise them for the two-language policy as it prepared them in advance for globalisation.

On the other hand, CN Annadurai's contribution is seldom praised. It is one of the developed States in India despite not possessing a trade and a big capital like Gujarat or Maharashtra. It also lacks water resources and land fertility like Punjab and also lacks the political bargaining power by like Uttar Pradesh. 

Here to be noted is that comparison is provided with Singapore for far-sightedness in terms of language but Tamil Nadu's education standards are not comparable with that of Singapore in terms of outcomes.

If we see internationally then the majority of the countries follow one language formula invariably mother tongue for teaching children in the primary classes. When they reach middle school they are given a chance to learn one more language, mostly English but there is no imposition through schools and voluntary learning is promoted.

Official Languages in Indian Constitution