An English Medium Student

Yes, that’s what I am. And that’s only what I am. I wouldn’t say that it helped me to be even a step ahead anyone who learnt from vernacular language schools.

Pope John XXIII High School, was the name of my school. In the days when I joined school people in our neighborhood could just make ends meet. Of course my parents had jobs, so did many other people in our area, but very few thought it necessary to educate their child in english medium schools. A social activist once scolded my parents saying that they seem to have had lots of excess money to waste since they had enrolled me and my brother to John XXIII. The fees were exorbitant(rupees 100 per month which was a huge amount in those days). And the convent run school meant added expenses throughout the school term. We had a uniform with a tie and proper shoes(people living in cities take this things for granted, but where I stayed, we were the best dressed students). We had a different uniform for sports. We were amongst the first to get computer education in our school, which of course, was charged separately. To sum up, it was quite expensive. While our friends in vernacular mediums, studied for about 10 rupees per month, used old uniforms and books passed on by older students. Shoes were made compulsory when they neared the end of their school life. And tie. Why was that required in a school?

When we left school and joined college, it was no longer based on language. The division was by streams. It was either Arts, Commerce, Science, Diploma or ITI. Initially my friends from non english schools did face some difficulty, and till date they recollect that. We considered ourselves lucky because we understood whatever the lecturer said. We were happy that our parents had educated us through english medium. Slowly, they picked up what was being taught. After college we went our ways. We had new friends. We chose our professions. We were dragged into the heavy currents of river of life. In the meantime, we forgot to evaluate the benefits, if any, which we had extracted from our english medium education.

Let me go personal. I studied mechanical engineering. Couldn’t secure a job for around a year and a half. I did manage to clear all the written examinations conducted by various companies. But somehow, my english medium education failed to hone my communication skills. I couldn’t clear interviews. Then I was selected for marine engineering training, and since that seemed to be the only option left at that time, I jumped in. I have served on various ships for around 4 years. Life, as it passed, managed to teach me some complexities it had in store. After leaving merchant navy, and taking up a job on land, I now find it meaningful to evaluate my english medium education against the vernacular medium education which my friends had taken.

I am a marine third engineer. My friend is a second engineer(second engineer is a level above third engineer). He studied in vernacular medium. Another friend sits right next to me and does the same job as I do. He studied in vernacular medium. The topper from my school works with a big IT company. But I think, he is the only one to join that company from our batch. I know few people from our batch who studied in vernacular medium, but joined the same company. Students from non english schools go ahead to become doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, scientist, politicians, writers and other top profession available in the industry. They have not lagged behind us in any sense. So what was it that was different or special in us english medium students, but didn’t fire up?

Its not the medium that ensures future success. It takes hard work to get there. Even after completion of school, my verbal skills in english were not as good as one would expect, because I did not take necessary steps to improve it. Its the commitment to strive towards success ensures it. It doesn’t matter what was the medium in which the school taught. It all depends on how much we want to learn, whatever is to be learned. I wouldn’t say that enrolling me in to english medium was a bad decision by my parents. My failure to make the most out of it, is what I must blame.


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