Section 29(2)(f) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 provides that “the medium of instruction shall, as far as practicable, be in the child’s mother tongue.” Many research articles have emphasized the importance of teaching in the mother tongue but how important is teaching regional numbers in this converging global society?
Maharashtra, a state in India, uses vernacular numerical system till class IV for mathematics only to completely shift to English numerals in class V while continuing the use of vernacular system for the rest of the subjects. This shift could be a major challenge for a child’s learning if not supported with expertise to ensure the shift smoothly. For the past 13 years the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has reported the flat learning trajectory and how children are not able to attain foundational literacy and numeracy. In such a scenario, the shift of numerals can further widen the learning gap. ASER Centre recently conducted a pilot asking children aged between 4 to 8 years to read vernacular (Marathi) numbers and English numbers from 1 to 99 – on an average children could identify 15% more English numbers than Marathi numbers. Children’s exposure to English numbers through currency, television, smartphones which are easily accessible to the lower economic strata of the population build a natural understanding of English number system outside of the academic ecosystem. Is it really necessary to make the children go through this shift is a question to ask.
Pooja Jain, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Stream: Curriculum Design & Development
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