“As an illustration of the outdated model, take the current system of English language teaching in the Tamil Nadu secondary sector, where the government directly runs 61 per cent of all schools.
Reading the IX standard English textbook provided by the state board is like travelling back in time. Students are instructed to match everyday words like “philatelist”, “numismatist”, and “ornithologist” to their correct meanings (I only managed one). One chapter explains at length the exact steps that need to be followed when sending a telegram, almost as vital a skill for the 21st century as knowing how to ride a penny farthing.
The book even refers to black people as “negroes” in one exercise, without providing adequate context for the uninitiated English learner, who would not know that the term is now widely considered a racial slur in the Western world (and has been for the past 20 years).
Supplying six million students every year with such outdated, error-strewn learning materials (even their title pages contain typos) is lazy and unacceptable, particularly when you consider that the 2009-2010 budget for secondary education in the state is a hefty Rs. 4,27,211 lakh. These textbooks are, after all, the predominant teaching resources which are intended to prepare schoolchildren for their X and XII standard public exams — tests considered of such great importance that 2008 alone counted 264 exam-failure-related suicides across all state and private schools in Tamil Nadu.”
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