A group of schools and parents in Tamil Nadu, located in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula, are protesting against the compulsory studying of the Tamil language in schools. Currently (and since 2006) Tamil is taught up to Year 10 in all schools in Tamil Nadu, and parents and students alike argue that this measure leads to monolingual professionals who have a harder time finding jobs abroad or in other parts of India.
Students against Tamil Monopoly
The Indian commercial broadcasting television network NDTV, one of the main broadcasters in the country, has cited the words of various dissatisfied students from Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital city, who are affected by the lack of choice. Anirduh, a student in Year 9, stated that, in order to study marine engineering and get a job in north India, he should be studying Hindi instead of Tamil. Other students complained about not being able to learn a different language from that spoken at home. The dissatisfaction can be observed in the trends affecting schools under the Tamil Nadu board, as many students have chosen to switch to central board schools where they can choose what languages to study.
Authorities in Favour of Middle Ground
Revathy Bonns, Principal at Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, has stated that he believes there could be an acceptable middle ground. According to him, schools could make Tamil compulsory in classes up to Year 5, and then give students the chance to choose. However, Tamil language is seen as a source of regional pride and was the source of violent protests in the 1960s, when Hindi was to be made the compulsory language at schools.
It is expected that the Madras High Court, the highest court in Tamil Nadu, will have the final word about the issue, but politicians from the current governing party have already stated their opposition and asserted that students are given choice after Year 10. Parlamentarian T. K. S. Elangovan added that many eminent Indians have studied in Tamil schools, arguing that the language taught does not affect students’ outcome and perspectives.