Outcry over ‘English only’

Guwahati, May 30 : Students and college teachers are at loggerheads with Gauhati University over its decision to make English the sole medium of instruction at the degree level.

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Assam College Teachers’ Association have strongly opposed the decision, terming it ridiculous.

AASU general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi said making English the only medium of instruction would be an insult to the mother tongue and added that such a move would create chaos in colleges, especially those situated in rural areas, where most students came from vernacular medium schools. “Besides the students, many teachers will find it difficult to teach various subjects in English. What will happen to those teachers who completed their studies taking Assamese as the medium? Such a move must be stopped,” he said.

A university official said it was high time for Gauhati University to make the move as most states in the country had already made English the medium of instruction.

He said many textbooks at degree level, especially for science and commerce streams, were not available in Assamese and students had no other option but to depend on books in English. “If students can read their textbooks in English, I do not see any logic as to why there is opposition to the making the same language the medium of instruction,” the official said.

General secretary of the teachers’ association, Biswajit Bhuyan, did not buy the argument that degree-level textbooks in Assamese were not available in the market and insisted that both Assamese and English should remain the mediums of instruction.

“Dibrugarh University has already withdrawn its decision on the same issue. We will soon meet the vice-chancellor of Gauhati University, Okhil Kumar Medhi, to discuss the issue and pressurise him to suspend its decision. The teachers’ association hopes that the university will take the matter seriously,” he said.

Cotton College principal Indra Kumar Bhattacharyya said he was personally in favour of the move. “It is difficult to teach certain subjects, particularly science, in Assamese. In the highly competitive academic field it is also advisable for students to opt for English medium for their own interests,” he said.

The teachers’ association and AASU have also decided to move both Gauhati and Dibrugarh Universities seeking guidelines for fair evaluation of students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, in the wake of increasing allegations and complaints that many teachers are not allotting deserving marks to students, and thus, spoiling academic careers.