It was an initiative to tackle the inadequacies in the understanding of the English language among Gujarat youth but the state government’s efforts through the Society for Creation of Opportunity through Proficiency in English (SCOPE) seem to have yielded little fruit. While companies do not recognise its certificate, language experts and franchise owners of SCOPE are also sceptical about the quality of the initiative.
At the time of SCOPE’s launch, chief minister Narendra Modi had announced from the dais: “Angreji no abhav pan nahi ane Angreji no prabhav pan nahi” (There will be no ignorance of English and there will be no influence of English). But four years after its launch, the initiative has become an exercise in target achieving, though even the targets have not been met yet.
The state government’s target was to train 5 lakh youths in four years (by 2012) and increase the number of SCOPE centres to 1,000, both of which are nowhere being fulfilled. Since 2007, only 3,11,911 candidates have been trained.
“SCOPE was taken up on a public-private partnership (PPP) model and it will meet the target by next year,” said joint CEO of SCOPE, Sandeep Sharma.
SCOPE was launched to make the state’s youth proficient in the English language and help them secure jobs. “But our certificate is not recognised for jobs where proficiency in the English language is required,” said Navneet Heliya, a SCOPE franchise owner in Amreli.
The initiative targets schools and colleges where students are allowed to enrol in its course. SCOPE officials claim that their course is equivalent to that of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
But language experts think otherwise. “Students who have completed the SCOPE course are not as proficient in the language as the course claims they would be,” said an expert.
Raman Gandhi, who has the franchise for SCOPE in Dangs, admits that a private spoken English centre would serve better. “After this course, one gets a certificate that is not recognised. Even the trainers are not proficient in the language,” he said.
Ratif Rajouri, an official from SCOPE in Bharuch, said that the franchisee for the initiative had been given to private parties who do not take it seriously. “The state government had said at the launch of the initiative that it would improve Gujarat youths’ command over the English language but this goal has not been achieved by the franchise holders,” he said.
Dr RP Jadeja, director of HM Patel Institute of English, SP University, said languages cannot be learnt through such courses. “Using a language regularly is what helps a person learn a language,” he said.
Dr Ranjana Harish, head of the department of English, Gujarat University, said, “These days, students prefer studying in English medium schools where they learn the basics of the language. Initiatives like SCOPE may not work in many such cases,” she said.