Kerala panchayat for early English education


Kasaragod (Kerala) : A panchayat in Kerala has taken the initiative to have English taught from Class 1 in state-run schools to arrest the outflow of students to English-medium private schools.

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While other schools run by the government or aided by it teach English only from Class 3, some 600 children in nine schools in Padne panchayat in Kasaragod district in Kerala’s northern tip now teach the language from Class 1.

The panchayat has also framed its own syllabus and study material.

In Kerala, private schools that place a lot of emphasis on English are the top choice of students and parents despite their exorbitant fees.

“People are so keen on English education for their children that even those residing near government schools send their kids to private schools, even if they are some distance away,” said C. Jagadeeshan, president of the panchayat controlled by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

“In the last two or three years, we deliberated on the issue at the Panchayat Education Committee. We decided to implement the plan this year, using funds provided by the government,” he said.

Under the now two-weeks-old project called Sweet English, the panchayat has provided free study materials to the children and handbooks to teachers.

“This innovative drive will cost the panchayat only Rs.40,000,” noted Manoj N, the panchayat secretary.

There was already a proposal from the Kerala Curriculum Framework to introduce English from Class 1, said Santhosh A.V., a teacher at the Udinur Central Upper Primary School.

Santhosh is also the editor of the study materials prepared by the panchayat.

“Study materials for children consist of colour picture cards and a worksheet. Teaching follows a ‘code switching’ methodology where the teacher subtly introduces English to children during a story telling session, which is done in the mother tongue,” Santhosh said.

This way, the students will get into the world of English through expressive phrases and picture cards, he explained.

“The classes are expected to provide a good foundation in the language before children are formally introduced to English from Class 3. The Panchayat Education Committee has allocated one session a week for English classes and it will monitor the progress of the project,” said Jagadeeshan.