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NEW DELHI: Amid a raging debate over “imposition of languages”, official data point to over 50% of students completing their secondary level of education with one of 12 Indian languages and senior secondary level with one of eight home languages, other than English, as the medium of instruction.
According to the National Statistical Organisation’s (NSO) latest report on education, 70% or more students whose home language is Assamese, Bengali and Gujarati completed their school education in these vernacular languages. However, more students whose mother tongue is Malayalam, Telugu, Manipuri, Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Konkani or Nepali opted for English as the medium of instruction at least till Class X.

In general, a significant shift towards English as medium of instruction is seen at senior secondary level- Classes XI and XII.
The National Education Policy 2020 reiterates the three-language formula and suggests medium of instruction in home language at least till Class V. The RTE Act also suggests that mother tongue should be be considered as medium of instruction where ever possible.
The NSO survey reveals that 91.1% of students whose mother tongue is Assamese are learning in their home language at the primary level, the highest for any mother tongue at this level, followed by Odiya at 90.5%. At upper-primary or middle school level, 93.7% of the students whose mother tongue is Odiya are learning in their home language, followed by Assamese (89.8%), Bengali (86.5%) and Hindi (81.5%).
On the other side of the spectrum are Sanskrit, Urdu, Manipuri, Bodo, Konkani, Nepali and Sindhi, where the percentage of students studying in their home language is significantly low. As per the survey, there are no students attending classes in Sanskrit medium. In the primary and middle-school level, just 8.7% and 4.7% of students have opted for Manipuri medium, while it is 11.4% and 28.6% for Nepali. The figures for Urdu as home language and medium of instruction are 11.8% (primary), 14.5% (middle-school) and 14.2% at secondary level.
The report points out that majority of those with home language of Malayalam, Telugu, Manipuri, Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Konkani or Nepali, opted for English as the medium of instruction. For example, 79.8 % of students whose home language is Telugu are learning in English medium at pre-primary level, 58.6% at primary level, 53.1% at middle-school, 49.2% at secondary level and 74.5% at senior secondary level.
The survey also showed that preference for English as a medium of instruction is more prevalent at the starting phase of schooling and at senior secondary level. It says 90.6% of students whose home language is Tamil are starting their education at pre-primary level with English as medium of instruction. Preference for English as a medium of instruction at senior secondary level increases significantly with an exception for students with Bengali as the mother tongue, where just 4.9% are attending classes with English as medium of instruction.
The report on “Household Social Consumption: Education”, released in July, surveyed 1.13 lakh households spread across over 8,000 villages and 6,000 urban blocks between July, 2017 and June 2018. It involved 1.52 lakh students across different levels of study.

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