AN APPEAL TO THE BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS

An Introduction: My first guest post is finally here and i am really excited to be introducing Pankaj Kumar Jain, a budding entrepreneur and a really close friend. He is one of those few people that i have met who are really passionate about what they do and he can create wonders out of stuff that other people find useless. Best of luck for all your endeavors buddy.

The article:

The entrepreneurs emerging today are trying to create jobs through innovative ventures in different fields. They are well educated and visionary but they are still trying to ignore something which is very important to be taken into consideration. They have completed their graduation in English (in most of the cases) and they are trying to create jobs for the section which is not comfortable with English. A general assumption is taken sometimes that most of the students complete their education in English language and are proficient in it. Social entrepreneurs who are working in rural areas are trying to improve electricity problem through solar cells and other technologies. They are trying to improve agricultural conditions by bringing efficient supply chain, self help groups, making farmers familiar with the latest technologies of cultivating crops, their storage and transport etc. They are working on education sector to improve the literacy rate. They are working on health sectors by associating with the government so that the health facilities can reach to the remotest part of the district.

From the above fields mentioned I would like to draw your attention towards the field of education. Looking at the demand of the industries English has become very important for the students to learn because if they don’t learn English and are not proficient in it they won’t get a good job. All the good schools providing primary education have also joined the race to impart education in English language. A general trend has been observed if the school is English medium its fees is very high. Also now the quality of education is defined in terms of English.

Let me give an example; for a person who knows English, if a set of instructions are given for a job in English language then the job will be done. Now if the same set of instructions are given in any other language say Hindi, Tamil, Telgu or any language to those people who are familiar with respective languages, would that job be done the same way or not? If you are thinking like a rational person you would agree and say ‘yes’. The person whose mother tongue is not English, if you teach him something in English and expect that he will learn it and become educated then you are wrong. The first thing that he will try to learn is English then he will learn what you want him to. If the same thing is taught in his mother tongue then a step in the learning is reduced and he will directly learn that thing.

From the above example I want to say that knowledge is not altered if the language of learning is Telgu, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Guajarati or English. If you can teach someone to make an aircraft in English, same thing can be taught in Hindi as well. He will not make car if you teach him to make aircraft in language other than English.

Now you will argue with me should we close all the schools that are imparting education in English language? I am not asking to do that if they continue as they are they will continue to provide education to only 20 to 30% population of this country and only that much is required to fulfill the global demand. If you either shut them down or switch them to native languages there will be huge protest. So there is no need to do that. If you educate all the students in English language, not all of them will be hired by the global companies only 10 to 20 % out of the educated lot is hired. That means the total percentage of employed people goes down further.

Now my point is that the companies which are solely operating in India, is there a need for them to use English as their official language? They set English proficiency as their minimum criteria and 80% graduate students are rejected just like that. Be it any sales and marketing company, Consultancy Company, manufacturing company, the work which they do with the use of English language can be done the same way or even much better in Hindi or other native language. Now the question will come what about software company? I must say these should be developed in Indian languages as well. I am saying this not because I don’t want to meet international standards, but I want these things to be useful for those who want to complete their education in Hindi or any native language and I want these software not to be restricted to the English speaking class or tier I, II cities but I want them to be taken to the villages where they can avail the technology merely just by reading the instructions to operate it.

Again you would raise the point, what if the company wants to go international? It is not a big deal, just apply your mind and you will find the solution. As soon as you will find a solution you would have created a lot of job by then.

Another point is that, is it right to judge the level and quality of education on the basis of being able to speak and work in English? If we are doing this then we are devaluing our own language and culture. I am an IITian and at college I use English most of the times to communicate with the professors or any corporate person I meet. When I go to my home I use my native language (which is Hindi) in the usual native tone to have the feeling that I have not forgotten what I am and where I belong to. This also keeps me in touch with all class of people be it literate or illiterate, English speaking or Hindi speaking. But my parents expect me to use English most of the times when I move out of the home to interact with other people. Why? Because in their (my parent’s) view it will show others that I am a well educated man and others will look up to me. Because of me being the first to move out of the village and progress to the extent of becoming an IItian everyone, who can afford, have started sending their children to English medium schools.

This trend has also degraded the quality of government schools which are generally Hindi medium because the students who are identified to have talent are immediately switched to English medium schools. Same is the case with the Teachers who take pride in teaching at English medium schools and institutions. The teachers with M. SC. and PHD degree are never seen at any Hindi medium school nor do they apply for it. The minimum criteria have now become B. ED. and metric pass (thanks to reservation) in some cases. This is the scenario known to us but not to the poor villagers. They send their children to the nearest government school, the students study there but they don’t receive the quality education. Quality of education has degraded because of the lack of good quality teachers and lack of enthusiasm in the teachers due to limited opportunities for the students completing their 10th or 12th from that school. This is only because institutes providing higher education are not available in the country. Students can complete their B. Sc., M. Sc, B.A., M.A. and even PHD in their native language from the existing universities but there is no opportunity for higher level research work if any student wants to continue. These universities are not well recognized at national level or international level and there is no job opportunity for the students who get their degrees from these universities. Engineering, medical and MBA schools/ colleges providing courses in Hindi or any native language are nowhere available in the entire country.

Those who are working in the field of education are trying to find easy means of teaching English to the children. I have been working with an organisation in the field of education from last 4 years and I have seen that if we switch those who have studied up to 3rd or 4th standard in Hindi medium to English medium schools, they are not at all able to cope up with other students in that schools. If we try to continue them hoping that they will learn in time, they start losing their interest in studies, their performance goes down and they start running away from schools as they develop inferiority complex. Only those are able to last who have been enrolled from nursery classes.

If we go by the data we find India has one of the highest dropout rates in the world. Even though over 70% of our children enroll for primary education, 72% of them would have dropped out by the time they reach standard 10. But being first generation learners, education is most critical for this 72%. This way we find that only 20% children are able to continue up to higher education. Shouldn’t we focus more on those who are getting dropped out due to English and those who are not even able to get enrolled into primary education? This section sums to 80% of the children.

This is my Question to the emerging entrepreneurs, how will they ensure that 72% of the students who drop out because of the English language barrier in their study curriculum, they will continue to study? Can they start enterprises where language is not a barrier?

All those who have started enterprises by now must be documenting everything in English. Their websites must be in English. Can the budding entrepreneurs start working in regional languages? Wouldn’t it create jobs for those who are comfortable with their native languages? Wouldn’t it create enthusiasm in those who drop out after standard 10?

Why our countries premier Institutions like IITs doesn’t have study courses in regional languages? Almost 50% of the talent pool drops out because of the language barrier.

Does the ministry of education pay a little attention to this grave problem which is eating our country every year, every day?

My question is why they have not started premier institutes in all the fields such as, medical, engineering, honors (Hindi, Arthashastra, history, political science etc…), imparting education in Hindi or regional languages? Does the quality of knowledge reduce if it is obtained in a language other than English?

We have seen in the last 60 years that running after English has not helped large amount of population. So it is my humble appeal to all the emerging entrepreneurs that before striving to meet global standards try to serve your country by understanding its problem. Don’t make language criteria for employing the people of this country. Start companies in Hindi or other native language, talk to the people of this country in their language, work with them in their language, make them feel that you are one of them and keep your culture alive.

Pankaj Kumar Jain.

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