Temple to teach English to untouchables

Lucknow, Novermber, 1 : A temple to "Goddess English" is being built in a village in India's Uttar Pradesh state to encourage the local Dalit community to learn English.

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The Dalits, or former untouchables, are below the lowest rung of the Hindu caste system. Despite decades of affirmative action, much of the community is still poor and employed to do menial tasks.

The temple in Banka village of Lakhimpur Kheri district would teach English to Dalits and help them to progress, PTI news agency quoted as saying Chandra Bhan Prasad, who came up with the idea.

The temple is planned as a single-storey structure with a facade of black granite. Inside, there would be an idol in the shape of a computer wearing a gown and hat, holding a pen and a copy of the Indian Constitution.

Engravings of symbols and formulae of physics, chemistry, mathematics and English sayings are planned for the walls.

Construction of the temple began in April and is due to be completed by November, Prasad said. A sizeable number of Dalits live in Banka and surrounding areas.

"This temple would help encourage them to learn the language which has become essential for one's growth, as in 20 years' time no decent job would be available without a knowledge of English," he said.

The temple is located on the site of a Dalit education centre and will be run by a trust, said Prasad.

An estimated 350 million of India's population of more than one billion speak English, which is the preferred language of the elite and is widely seen as a passport to jobs and a better life


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