Karnataka Curricular Framework for the Foundational Stage (3 – 8 years) (Report of the Subgroup 1, February 2023) (later addressed as KCF-FS) has geared itself to fail at the same aspiration it has set itself to achieve.
KCF-FS, on Page No. 49, states its goal by quoting NCF and SCF –
“A key part of the NCF, which this SCF is also reiterating, is thus aimed at instilling foundations of excellent multilingual skills orally in children as early as is possible and in a manner that is developmentally appropriate. It is important to immerse children in multiple oral languages early.”Karnataka Curricular Framework for the Foundational Stage (3 – 8 years) (Report of the Subgroup 1, February 2023)
Clearly, their goal is to lay a solid foundation for children’s language abilities using “multilingualism”.
In the same Page No. 49, KCF-FS also states –
“While Kannada is the regional language of the state, many communities in the coastal region and in other areas speak Konkani, Kodava, Tulu and Urdu. Some of the languages are actually dialects without scripts of their own.”Karnataka Curricular Framework for the Foundational Stage (3 – 8 years) (Report of the Subgroup 1, February 2023)
It is important to recognize that the distinction between language and dialect is arbitrary and is constructed only due to power, prestige, and social and political factors rather than linguistic differences.
One can clearly note that here use of the term “dialect” is derogatory to imply that a particular form of speech is inferior or uneducated, also because they do not have their “own scripts”.
It is important to understand that all languages (even those referred to as “dialects”) have unique grammatical rules, vocabulary, and syntax and are equally complex and valuable forms of communication. Rather than degrading or stigmatizing certain forms of speech by calling them “dialects”, we should celebrate and embrace the diversity of languages and work towards promoting language equality and inclusivity in all aspects of our lives, which would actually mean professing “multilingualism”.
The above-quoted sentence on Page No. 49 perpetuates the idea that some languages are “regional” while others are not, which reinforces the idea that some languages are more important or valuable than others. This is a flawed perspective, as all languages and dialects are equally valuable and important for the communities that use them.
The sentence also describes some of the languages spoken in the region as “dialects without scripts of their own.” This is a problematic description, as it implies that these languages are somehow less important or legitimate than other languages with their own writing systems. It is important to recognize that a language does not need to have a writing system to be a legitimate form of communication.
The sentence also erases the distinct linguistic and cultural identities of the communities that speak Konkani, Kodava, Tulu, and Urdu by lumping them all together as “dialects.” This can be seen as a form of linguistic and cultural marginalization, which can perpetuate inequalities and discrimination.
The sentence perpetuates linguistic and cultural hierarchies and marginalizes the identities of the communities that speak these languages.
KCF-FS, on Page No. 49 itself, also states –
“In a context where the dominant dialect does not have a script, a bilingual approach, where children can be taught emergent and early literacy skills in their dialect using the Kannada script could be adopted. This may make it easier for children to learn the script since they would have the advantage of the known vocabulary and expression which facilitates reading. Here the medium of instruction is the dominant language and Kannada is introduced alongside in oral form as the second language.”Karnataka Curricular Framework for the Foundational Stage (3 – 8 years) (Report of the Subgroup 1, February 2023)
This sentence also suggests that certain dialect would be “dominant,” which may imply that it is more important or valuable than other dialects (my word- languages). This sentence has potential to perpetuate linguistic hierarchies and discrimination.
On Page No. 134, KCF-FS states –
“Bangalore has 20% of the state’s population with a huge migrant mix speaking different languages. The fact that the state shares borders with 5 other states with children in border districts having varied home languages, and the presence of several dominant dialects has implications for contextualization of the policy for determining the language of instruction and that requires special attention.”Karnataka Curricular Framework for the Foundational Stage (3 – 8 years) (Report of the Subgroup 1, February 2023)
The sentence describes the presence of “several dominant dialects” in a way that it is perpetuating linguistic hierarchies and discrimination. It is important to recognize that all languages are valuable and important, so the language that some dialects are more important or dominant than others should be changed.
The sentence also describes the presence of a “huge migrant mix” in Bangalore, which is stigmatizing and marginalizing migrant communities. It is important to recognize the valuable contributions that migrant communities make to the linguistic and cultural diversity of the region and any language that implies that migrant communities are somehow separate or distinct from the larger community should be avoided.
Referring to people from other states within India as “migrants” is problematic and potentially dehumanizing. The term “migrant” implies a temporary or transient status and can perpetuate stereotypes and stigmatization of people who move from one place to another.
It is important to recognize the diverse and complex reasons why people move from one place to another, whether it is for work, education, family, or other reasons. People who move to a new state within India are not necessarily temporary or transient, and they should not be stigmatized or marginalized based on their place of origin.
Using more inclusive and respectful language, such as “people from other states” or “people who have migrated to this state,” can help to promote a more positive and inclusive attitude towards linguistic and cultural diversity within India. It is important to recognize the value and contributions of people from different states and regions to India’s cultural and linguistic diversity and to avoid language perpetuating stereotypes or stigmatization.
On Page No. 134, KCF-FS states –
“Constitute groups that can develop a three -year bilingual curriculum to support a shift from the dialect to Kannada.”Karnataka Curricular Framework for the Foundational Stage (3 – 8 years) (Report of the Subgroup 1, February 2023)
The sentence refers to a “shift from the dialect to Kannada”, implying that the dialect is somehow inferior or less valuable than Kannada. It is important to recognize that all languages and dialects are important and have value for the communities that use them, so, a language that perpetuates linguistic hierarchies or discrimination should be avoided.
The sentence also suggests that a bilingual curriculum is needed to support the shift to Kannada. While a bilingual approach is effective in promoting multilingualism and inclusive education, changing the objective from the attainment of “multilingualism” to “shift from the dialect to Kannada” indoctrinates that the “dialect” is inferior and thus “shifting to Kannada” is required.
The document KCF-FS not only aspires to achieve “multilingualism” but also, on Page No. 141, states that– “A uniform language policy has many other challenges in Karnataka”, clearly the document desires to be progressive. In contrast, due to implicit biases or due to social and political reasons, the document fails to achieve even its self-acclaimed desires and objectives.
It is important to ensure that the curriculum is designed and implemented in a way that is inclusive and respectful of the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the learners.
A more inclusive and respectful approach would be to celebrate the region’s linguistic and cultural diversity and recognize the value and importance of all languages (including those languages which are called “dialects” by KCF-FS) regardless of their writing systems or regional affiliations.
Citation: Department of School Education and Literacy Karnataka & Department of Women and Child Development Karnataka. (n.d.). Karnataka Curricular Framework for the foundational stage. (3 – 8 years) (Report of the Subgroup 1, February 2023)