Telugu language in dire straits: Experts

Competitive Exams & Better Job Prospects Driving Gen Next To Pursue English Education

Anuradha,a software engineer with a top firm was born 40 years ago in Hyderabad to Telugu parents,but she never learned her mother tongue and studied English instead before taking national competitive exams and eventually secured a plump IT job.I take my mothers help if I have to know anything in a Telugu newspaper or about films,but while pursuing a career in IT or IIT,learning Telugu never occurred to me, she said.
Anuradhas feelings are echoed by hundreds of Telugu teenagers and school children who are fluent in Hindi and English,have non-Telugu friends and all have plans to take Eamcet,IIT or other exams soon not to lag behind others.All my friends are non-Telugus and since my childhood its been English and Hindi all the way,and my parents never forced me to join a Telugu medium school, says Niharika,22,preparing for her MBA now.

India opened its economy in 1991 allowing foreign investments and by mid-1990 s more cross-sectoral job opportunities started pouring in and that was the time when parents allowed children to drift away from Telugu and schools started grooming children for competitive exams,where Telugu was never the first choice,experts said.Each year,nearly 30 lakh students appear for competitive exams like Eamcet and IIT.Most parents want their children to secure seats in such courses rather than opt for Telugu language orientation, said Telugu development educationist Chukka Ramaiah.

An education survey done across schools of Andhra Pradesh by a private group in 2011 revealed that only 70% of children in class-IV and V were able to read properly and another 64% able to calculate math sums correctly.Ramaiah,who analyzed the survey,said a mix of English and Telugu taught in schools was hurting the grasping capacity of students,resulting in many people calling for making Telugu compulsory up to class-V.

Interestingly it is not only students opting for engineering courses are deficient in Telugu.Anajaneyulu,a photographer hailing from Warangal can neither read nor write Telugu.Reason: I went to an English medium school, says the photographer.Worried at thoughts of Telugu getting lost,the government has decided to make the language compulsory from primary schools to degree level,inviting some protests from people who say the government was going backwards into the 1960s.Putting up Telugu signboards before shops was made mandatory as part of several measures taken by the government to bring about a revival in Telugu.A similar move to make a regional language compulsory was once adopted in West Bengal in the 1977 to late 1980s,but it backfired and students from the state began faring badly in competitive exams.

Some educationists are pressing the alarm bells saying Telugu could be placed in the list of endangered languages as per the United Nations Organisation (UNO) guidelines if it continues to be ignored.If less than 27% of children and students and young generation do not read and write the language,it will surely die in the next 50 years, Juluri Gowri Shankar,a Telugu writer told TOI.

There are about 56,000 government schools out of which 12,000 schools teach in English,a trend which has increased in the last 15 years.In addition,there are 7,000 private schools,which mostly teach in English medium.All these schools have Telugu as first language up to class 10 as language option.
There is no problem with the syllabus,but mostly earlier generations had interest in language and children were made to read Ramayana and Mahabharata in Telugu, N Upendar Reddy,professor at the State Council and Educational Research and Training (SCERT) said.Besides,there used to be several childrens magazines in Telugu,but all that is missing now, he added.Educationists also blame the cultural disorientation of Telugus as one of the reasons for the younger generation from drifting away from the language.During the literary festival in the city last week it came out that the genre of Telugu novels was dying with no stuff being churned out.Little wonder that no Telugu writer could win Jnanapith award since 1991.It is well known that even in serious fiction some characters with aversion to Telugu language were created.

The coastal areas were under the influence of British culture and Telangana was under the Nizams rule,so there has never been any focus on Telugu, Mandali Buddha Prasad,the official language committee chairman said.

Telugu is facing threat of being declared endangered Comprehensive skills of schoolchildren in Telugu is going down Alarm bells for Telugu as the youth below the age group of 40 shy away from speaking Telugu
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