With English increasingly becoming the preferred language of education even among the students hailing from poorer sections of the society and also rural areas, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to lay emphasis on English right from Class I in its schools. Accordingly, English will now be taught as the second language from Class I from 2011-12 academic year, minister for primary education Sake Sailajanath said. “The basic idea is to provide access to children from poorer sections as well as rural areas to English education right from Class I rather than Class III (the current policy), so that they compete with students of private schools,” Sailajanath told Press Trust of India. A report by the Regional Institute of English (RIE), (Bangalore) has established that the percentage of enrolment of students in government schools has drastically reduced from 84.48% to 55.72% in primary and upper primary schools, whereas admissions in the private residential schools increased from 17.52% to 44.28% in the period from 1995-96 to 2009-10 in Andhra Pradesh. In respect of Telugu medium, enrolment percentage in Class I to Class X for the period 2000-01 to 2009-10 in Government schools reduced from 83.47 per cent to 65.54 per cent, while English medium enrolment increased from 13.77% to 31.66%. “It was observed that most parents in rural areas are withdrawing their children from government Telugu medium schools due to lack of English teaching,” the report noted. RIE has recommended introduction of English from Class I without making it a burden for the children to learn it most effectively in the early years. The Andhra Pradesh government hopes that the introduction of English from Class I will help in increasing the enrolment of students and helping them at later stage of their education. The State Council of Educational Research and Training had also proposed the introduction of English as a second language from Class I in government schools and recommended development of effective textbooks from Class I to V reflecting constructive pedagogy as recommended by National Curriculum Framework 2005. It also recommended development of appropriate reading material and learning cards for effective English language acquisition and developing textbooks in coordination with the RIE.