NEP 2020: The National Education Policy 2020, that was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday, stirred some serious controversies as the document stressed upon the use of “child’s mother tongue” as the medium of instruction. However, the government has clarified that the language policy was not compulsory, but a mere suggestion. Also Read - 'Nobody Said it Has Any Bias': PM Modi Amid Debate Over National Education Policy 2020

According to the policy drafting panel chief K Kasturirangan, the proposed three-language formula in NEP 2020 was an “important” but flexible approach and includes the home language, mother tongue, local language and regional language as options for the medium of instruction. Also Read - National Education Policy 2020: This is How Ed-Tech Firms in India Aim to Grab The Digital Space

The former ISRO chief said that “adopting local languages as the medium of instruction till Class 5 is important in the early phase of education because the child’s strengths in understanding the principles and in displaying creativity manifests better in the mother tongue as well in the local language”. Also Read - 'Saddened': Tamil Nadu CM Rejects Centre's 3-Language Policy Under NEP 2020, Won't Implement in State

“Children have a great ability to pick up multiple languages in early age. The policy talks about a flexible approach in the three-language formula. How it will be implemented in states it’s their decision. No language is being imposed in the policy,” he said.

The language segment of the new policy, termed as ‘multilingualism, and power of language’, stresses on the usage of local or home language “wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond” in order to make regional languages enjoyable for children.

Of the three languages under the new school education structure, the policy stated, children, will have the flexibility to choose whichever language they want as long as at least two of them are native to India.

Why is it controversial?

The NEP 2020 language policy has been proposed to promote education in rural areas and small towns where students usually have scanty knowledge of English, which also happens to be a foreign language.

“Experts have found when a child is born he starts learning in his home language. It is not just in our country, in countries like France and Germany and even Nobel laureates have admitted that their knowledge of science or any other subject has been better when they studied it in their language,” Kasturirangan said.

However, the policy gravely misses out on the factor that many students come from other states and might not know the regional or local language. As a result, its effort to promote diversity and pluricultural in language may go futile.

The NEP 2020 draft was submitted to Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ when he took charge last year. With its approval, the Cabinet also accepted changing the name of HRD Ministry to the Ministry of Education.