It has been a while since I blogged. The reason is this. Everyday, I go to school – I learn, understand or realize something new. I come back and pen it down. The very next day, my thoughts about the same thing change completely and I am in a totally new direction of thinking!
I write in this post one such example.
So, I am teaching spoken English in the Gram Vikas school at Kankia village. I started this after I saw that the kids here could read and write in English but couldn’t speak or understand a word when spoken to. However, I am in constant dilemma wondering why it’s important for these tribal kids to be able to speak English. A language is just a medium of communication and learning Odia or their tribal dialect should be enough. I felt that I was considering doing something totally useless and trying to drag them into ‘mainstream’ without putting any thought into it. I wrote about it.
Soon, I meet an ex student of the school – Bhima Sabar who is currently pursuing MBBS(a post about him later) – the only student from this school so far who has started studying medicine. When I called him to check if I could meet him, I was struggling with broken Odia and Hindi, and to my surprise, he said he would be more comfortable speaking English. Even Class X kids in our school who have decently tough lessons in their English text book cannot manage beyond a What is your name or How are you? and this guy here was conversing in very good English!
I later learnt that his MBBS course is completely in English and luckily he managed to learn some English in college (XI and XII) before MBBS since he went to a college where speaking English was mandatory.
He says if he hadn’t done that, he really would have struggled with his medical course.
I came back home and deleted my previous post.
I realized that just like Skill based training like masonry or tailoring gives people opportunities that they didn’t have earlier, learning English could also open up avenues for them which they didn’t already have.
I am not saying the confusion in my mind is resolved, but am glad there is truly some unlearning, learning, relearning everyday and the cycle goes on.