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Technical Education and Regional Languages (1 December 2020)

Technical Education and Regional Languages

Context:

This episode talks about latest decision by the centre on giving thrust to mother tongue or to say regional language in technical education, especially engineering courses, from next academic year.

Background:

A few IITs and NITs are being shortlisted for the same. The decision to teach in regional language was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank last month.

In their decision announced, the ministry said that this move is in line with the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which promotes regional language as a mode of delivering education.

Advantage of imparting technical education in regional languages:

  • There is no doubt that English has become a favourable language for science communication in International context. Further, such discussion should be based on evidence and research and not driven on emotions.
  • Having said that discussion over topic of “Instructions in English medium or vernacular languages” is not new debate but from several decades. Specially Instructions in English medium has become a major issue in country which are part of Global south (South Asia, Central America, South America, Africa, middle east)
  • Better Conceptual Understanding: Growing research evidence shows that if students are taught in Mother Tongue/Regional Languages (MTRL), their ability to understand concepts are much better.
  • Fuels more creativity and innovation: Growing evidence- Students become more creative and innovative if taught in MTRL, which advocated in NEP 2020 and also in recent decision of introducing MTRL in tech edu.
  • It was long overdue and its glad to see that these steps are finally taken for higher education.
  • Support rural background students: IITs teachers when communicate in mix language (e.g. Hindi + English), students feel very very comfortable, specially people from rural background.
  • Reduces Failures: Many students get failed in IITs in first year in PCM. It’s not because they are weak but due to language issue, they don’t understand or not able to express themselves.
  • Boost confidence: Studying in their own MTRL enhances their confidence to do well and grasp conceptual understanding of subjects.
  • Many components of teaching-like-laboratory classes, tutorials also etc are best taught in Mix mode/MTRL. Purpose is to teach them understand better.
  • Many Laboratory staff also more comfortable in MTRL hence easy for them to teach in MTRL.
  • Students better express themselves in exams and in industries

Challenges to be faced:

  • Need to build up resources to encourages these kinds of learning otherwise people will keep lagging.
  • Its easy for some people to teach in English. So, books/material can be translated into MTRL, but faculties need to learn MTRL. Its also bit challenging to them.
  • Other Pan Indian Students: Many students from different states (Bihar, U.P.) take education from other states (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu). If they will be taught in the mother tongue of other states, they won’t understand much. They are more comfortable in English.
  • To develop Academic Materials - Books, Lecture content etc in MTRL.
  • Challenge for faculties to translate into MTRL. But Faculties will accept it as they want betterment of students. Faculties are ready to take challenges.
  • No Platform for Research Component - Sometimes faculty member may face issues in R&D, as research output generally published in English. We need to create such platforms. In Japan, all R&D Papers are published in Japanese.

Way Forward and Conclusion:

  • In Tamil Nadu- Auto industry is very advanced there. If State universities offer Tech Education in MTRL, its very fine because Engineer Will come out to get work in Tamil Nadu mostly. So, it’s good. So, we can encourage state universities to introduce Tech prog in MTRL.
  • At JNU, Apex committee is formed to find programmes which can be taught in Hindi.
  • Gandhi ji in Young India,1925 said-By teaching our students in a language which is total foreign to them, we are making our kids foreigner in their own country. Its high time that we focus on our MTRL.
  • Gandhi said that please don’t wait for books/lecture/curriculum to be prepared in local languages. Just introduce education in next session in MTRL and everything else will fall in line.
  • National institute for Translation: In NEP 2020- Proposal to set up a National institute for Translation. Technical terms, books etc. have to be translated.
  • Take the first steps, don’t wait for anybody to nudge. As education institute, it’s our responsibility to educate our students to become more creative and innovative, If MTRL helps in doing that, we should be the first to do that.
  • Not only Tech education need to be taught in MTRL. But All Higher Education subjects should be taught in MTRL. But it’s possible only when we provide resources.
  • Gandhi ji in Young India,1925 said-By teaching our students in a language which is total foreign to them, we are making our kids foreigner in their own country. Its high time that we focus on our MTRL.

Important Points made by Guest:

Prof. Pramod Kumar Jain, Director, IIT BHU, Varanasi

Q. Technical education in Regional Languages/Mother tongue (RLMT). What are the challenges?

Ans:

  • Faculty member, in first and second year, can take this challenge as many students come from rural background.
  • Many components of teaching-like-laboratory classes, tutorials also etc are best taught in Mix mode/MTRL.
  • Purpose is to teach them understand better.
  • Many Laboratory staff also more comfortable in RL/MT hence easy for them to teach in MTRL.
  • Students do understand concepts better and better express themselves in exams and in industries.
  • If taught completely in English, some students fail in exams, it’s not because weak but due to lang issue.
  • We sud try this option. Teacher sud deliberately use this option at all level so that better converse and explain people.

Q. Will it be confined to only technical subjects or will be expanded to other Higher Education courses as well. What will be the challenges?

Ans:

  • To develop Academic Material-Books, Lecture content etc.
  • Challenge for faculties to translate into RLMT.
  • But Faculties will accept it as they want betterment of students. Faculties are ready to take challenges.
  • Platform for Research Component- - Sometimes faculty member may face issues in R&D, as research output generally published in English. We need to create such platforms. In Japan, all R&D Papers are published in Japanese.
  • Japan-Teaching in Japanese, Journals/books/research papers in Japanese., Jobs preference to people speaking Japanese. So basically, what requires is Merit/talent. Language is just a medium.

Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar, Vice Chancellor, JNU

Q. How do you see technical education to be taught in mother tongue or regional languages?

Ans-

  • There is no doubt that English has become a favourable language for science communication in International context.
  • Whatever discussion should be based on evidence and R&D and not driven on emotions.
  • Having said that English Medium Instruction (EMI) discussion is not new debate but from several decades. Specially EMI has become a major issue in country which are part of Global south (South Asia, Central America, South America, Africa, middle east)
  • Growing research evidence that if students taught in MT/RL, ability to understand concepts is much better.
  • Recent study of Hongkong- Learning Physics in MT/RL led to advanced level of conceptual understanding.
  • South Africa study- Students become more confident in expressing their ideas about science and Tech education
  • Lebanon study- Students given clear preference to be taught in MT/RL.
  • Growing evidence- Students become more creative and innovative if taught in MTRL, which advocated in NEP 2020 and also in recent decision of introducing MTRL in tech education.
  • It was long overdue and its glad to see that these steps are finally taken for higher education.

Q. Other Countries model, Research any to suggest it.

Ans-

  • IITs teachers when communicate in mix language (Hindi + Eng.), they feel very comfortable, especially people from rural background.
  • Many students get failed in IITs in first year in PCM. It’s not because they are weak but language issue.
  • Studying in their own MTRL enhances their confidence to do well and grasp conceptual understanding of subjects.
  • We must start with mix mode of teaching or MTRL in HEIs if we want to make our students more creative and innovative.

Q.  Once students’ complete course only in MTRL/Mix, any challenges in industry?

Ans:

  • Tamilnadu- Auto industry very advanced there. If State universities offer Tech Edu in RLMT, its very fine because Engineer will come out to get work in Tamilnadu only, so it’s good.
  • So, we can encourage state universities to introduce Tech prog in RLMT.
  • Having said that we are not against English. This is something really people are miscommunicating or misunderstanding. English of course is required as a tool to communicate in different context. So, these students will also study English as a tool. All we are saying that let MTRL be their Medium of instructions.
  • Students who is educated in Gujarat, Nagaland, Kerala, they will be knowing English as tool to communicate and hence will be ready to work in any MNCs at any location with in India or outside.

Q. Challenges if extended to other courses

Ans:

  • At JNU, Formed Apex committees to find programmes which can be taught in Hindi.
  • Gandhi ji in Young India,1925 said-By teaching our students in a language which is total foreign to them, we are making our kids foreigner in their own country. Its high time that we focus on our RLMT.
  • Gandhi also said that please don’t wait for books/lecture/curriculum to be prepared in local languages. Just introduce education in next session in RLMT and everything else will fall in line.
  • NEP 2020- Proposal to set up a National institute for Translation. Technical terms, books have to be translated.
  • Take the first steps, don’t wait for anybody to nudge. As education institute, it’s our responsibility to educate our students to become more creative and innovative, If MTRL helps in doing that, we should be the first to do that.

Dr. Shiv Govind Singh, Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad

Q. Will this move by Govt will promote regional languages as advocated by VP Naidu as well.?

Ans-

  • To be creative you need to learn it in MTI.
  • Need to build up resources to encourages these kind of learning otherwise people will keep lagging.

Q. Education in Mother Tongue will enhance Creative, innovation. Currently limited to few IITs, do u see its scope of expanding further and in other courses as well Or only technical education need to be taught in Mother Tongue?

Ans-

  • I don’t think that only technical education needs to be taught in MTRL. All Higher Education subjects should be taught in MTRL.
  • But it’s possible only when we provide resources.
  • We need to understand what are lacunas before going to achieve the larger goal.
  • English is important as Nagaland people may need to work in Tamilnadu, so language of communication is needed. But if they know their subjects very well, which can happen best in MTRL, then they will get best opportunity and their employability will also be increased.

Q. Challenges?

  • It’s easy for some people to teach in English. So, books/material can be translated into MTRL, but faculties need to learn MTRL.

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