Don’t favour making any language compulsory in school, says panel for Sanskrit promotion

A committee on revival of Sanskrit language headed by former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami, has made wide-ranging recommendations but made it clear that the language need not be made compulsory in schools. Instead, under the three language formula, schools and examination boards should ensure that the language is taught and available among those who are interested.

The seven-member committee, set up by the HRD ministry, has said that all Sanskrit Pathsalas and Vedic Schools should be affiliated to some board like Maharishi Sandipani Veda Vidya Pratisthan of Ujjain.

Speaking to TOI, Gopalaswami said, “We are against making any language compulsory.” The committee led by him has also recommended a paradigm shift in the pedagogy of Sanskrit. “We have recommended that grammar-translation method of teaching Sanskrit should be done away with. All over the world every language is taught in the target language. Same should be done in case of Sanskrit. Teaching should be in Sanskrit and not any other language. Current teachers should be made aware of new methodologies.”
 Related to this, Gopalaswami said is the problem that Sanskrit is first taught through grammar. “No language is learnt by learning grammar first. Grammar should be introduced unobtrusively. This calls for change in methodology. More text books and story books should be read first. Students should not be forced to learn through rote,” he said. It has also recommended that a vocabulary of commonly used Sanskrit words be built so that the language is standardised and simplified.
 The committee has also said that if Sanskrit has to become popular, textbooks of all subjects — science, mathematics, social sciences — should be in Sanskrit. Also, institutions like National Institute of Open Schooling should conduct examination in Sanskrit. “Textbooks in Sanskrit will help students to study modern subjects. Those going to Vedic Schools or Sanskrit Pathsalas should not be denied the opportunity to study other subjects,” Gopalaswami said.
 Committee has said ancient Sanskrit manuscripts be made available to students online. Gopalaswami said, “In an age when there is so much stress on going back to nature, producing organic food, solar energy, Sanskrit manuscripts on trees, forests and other things should be made accessible. The committee followed the principle from an old Sanskrit saying which states that just because something is old does not mean it is good and just because something is new does not mean it is necessarily bad. We want the ancient knowledge system to come in the public domain so that collaboration can take place between those who know about that branch of knowledge.” He gave instances of how front line research on ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) is being funded and how great mathematical mysteries have been unravelled in manuscripts on swara (note) and tala (rhythmic phrase).


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