Syllabus– General Studies 1(society)
- The recent decision of 14 engineering colleges across eight States to offer courses in regional languages in select branches from the new academic year marks a historic moment in the academic landscape of the country on which rests the future of succeeding generations.
- On a parallel note, the decision of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), to permit B. Tech programmes in 11 native languages in tune with the New Education Policy (NEP), is a momentous one.
- This monumental move opens the door to a whole world of opportunities — to students of B.Tech courses, in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam, Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi and Odia.
- In a survey conducted by the AICTE in February this year, of over 83,000 students, nearly 44% of students voted in favour of studying engineering in their mother tongue, underscoring a critical need in technical education.
- Even in elementary education, the mother tongue is being promoted and referred to as one of the key drivers in this regard
- It would be pertinent to recall the words of the great Indian physicist and Nobel Laureate, Sir C.V. Raman, who, demonstrating exemplary vision, observed, “We must teach science in our mother tongue. Otherwise, science will become a highbrow activity. It will not be an activity in which all people can participate…”
- While our educational system has seen phenomenal growth to the extent that it offers courses of international repute in engineering, medicine, law and the humanities, we have, paradoxically, excluded our own people from accessing it.
- Over the years, we have ended up building academic roadblocks, impeding the progress of the vast majority of our students and remained content with creating a small bubble of English-medium universities and colleges, while our own languages languish when it comes to technical and professional courses.
- Among the G20, most countries have state-of-the-art universities, with teaching being imparted in the dominant language of their people.
- Amongst Asian countries, in South Korea, nearly 70% of the universities teach in Korean, even as they aspire to play a role on the international stage.
- In a unique move, with the increasing craze for learning English among parents, the South Korean government, in 2018, banned the teaching of English prior to third grade in schools, since it appeared to slow pupils’ proficiency in Korean.
- Similarly, in Japan, a majority of university programmes are taught in Japanese; in China too, universities use Mandarin as the medium of instruction.
- In Europe, France and Germany offer us great insights into how nations protect their languages.
- France went to the extent of having a strict ‘French-only’ policy as the medium of instruction in schools.
- In Germany, while the language of instruction in schools is predominantly German, even in tertiary education, more than 80% of all masters’ programmes are taught in German.
- India has an overwhelming majority of professional courses being taught in English. In science, engineering, medicine and law, the situation is even bleaker, with native language courses being practically non-existent.
- The NEP outlines the road map, demonstrating to us the means to protect our languages while improving the access and quality of our education.
- It imparts primary education (at least until Class 5) in the student’s mother tongue, gradually scaling it up.
- The NEP’s emphasis on the mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instil confidence in students from poor, rural and tribal backgrounds.
- The progressive and visionary NEP 2020 champions education in one’s mother tongue right from the primary school level, improving the learning outcomes of the child and the development of his/her cognitive faculties hinges upon this.
- Multiple studies have proved that children who learn in their mother tongue in their early, formative years perform better than those taught in an alien language.
- UNESCO and other organisations have been laying emphasis on the fact that learning in the mother tongue is germane to building self-esteem and self-identity, as also the overall development of the child. Unfortunately, some educators and parents still accord unquestioned primacy to English, and resultantly, the child’s mother tongue ends up as their ‘second/third language’ in schools.
- For professional courses, while the initiative of the 14 engineering colleges is commendable, we need more such efforts all across the country. Private universities must join hands and offer a few bilingual courses, to begin with.
- One of the biggest bottlenecks for more students to take up higher education in their native languages is the lack of high-quality textbooks, especially in technical courses, and this needs to be addressed urgently.
- In the digital age, technology can be suitably leveraged to increase accessibility of these Indian language courses to students in remote areas. Content in the digital learning ecosystem, still a nascent domain in our country, is greatly skewed towards English which excludes the vast majority of our children, and this has to be corrected.
The Hindu link- https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-language-ladder-for-an-education-roadblock/article35732588.ece
Question- Higher education reforms need to start with the use of regional/mother tongue as a medium of teaching. Comment.