Is every educational institute ready to launch their technical courses in regional languages?

  • Upcoming academic year seems to be sceptical in terms of language barriers in technical courses. As declared by the present Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Tuesday, The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) will start offering engineering courses in mother tongue from next academic year.
  • A seminal decision was taken at a high-level review meeting to start technical education, especially engineering courses, imparting education in mother tongue (and this) will be opened from next academic year.
  • With respect to this official decision, the directors of several IIT’s and NIT’s have agreed whereas some of them presented a caution against the matter. Directors of top IITs have cast doubts over the ‘viability’ of such a move in view of the employment opportunities, industry requirements and the globalised workplace, besides the huge logistical challenge this poses for IITs in terms of faculty, textbooks and reference material.
  • With the Centre’s decision to offer JEE Main 2021 in more regional languages apart from the existing Gujarati, Hindi and English languages, aspirants who are proficient in their native tongue may stand a fair chance of gaining admission to the NITs, IIITs and the centrally funded technical institutes in the country.
  • In the meeting, it was also decided that the National Testing Agency (NTA) will come out with the syllabus for competitive examinations after assessing the existing scenario of school education boards. Last month, it announced its decision to conduct the JEE (Main) in nine regional languages, apart from Hindi and English from 2021.The need to assess the school education scenario before coming out with syllabus arises because many boards, including national boards like CBSE and CISCE, have rationalised their exam syllabus due to the COVID-19 situation and subsequent academic loss due to schools being closed since March.
  • The University Grants Commission has also been directed to ensure all scholarships, fellowships are disbursed in time and to start a helpline for the same and address all grievances of the students immediately. However, the IITs are yet to take up the matter so far on whether the JEE (Advanced) will also be offered in regional language.
  • The heads of leading IITs have sounded caution on the decision of the Union education ministry to provide technical education at IITs and other engineering institutes in the mother tongue, preferably from the next academic session.
  • Director Subhasis Chaudhary of IIT-Bombay justified that it is not the IIT’s or NIT’s who shall have to deal with this matter. In fact, no college is prepared to launch technical courses in regional languages as there is limited study material in Indian languages, besides the lack of teachers trained to teach in these languages. He added that it takes around 4-5 years of a student’s life to spend completing his or her technical education whereas its 30-40 years for the same person to spend in that same industry. The difficulty relies with everyone in the industry. A stakeholder’s meeting is required to take place where the feedback of the industry can be obtained as it is of a supreme value. The assessment to linguistic needs of the jobs is a necessity. Various industrial bodies should take up the issue, discuss threadbare and provide appropriate feedback to the task force. Once the issue is settled, the question of validity will be asked appropriately.
  • The director also added to the fact that English has always been the medium of instruction in higher education. It was thrust on us about 164 years ago through the Wood’s Despatch. The time is out of the clock if everyone convinces to bring a change. Therefore, a proper long-term planning is a necessity for deboarding English out of the syllabus and unmatchable to technological developments soon after the accurate conviction.
  • List of responses of the directors available at the IIT-Senate meeting:
IIT SENATESRespective Responses by their Directors
IIT-MadrasDid not respond to ET’s Queries
IIT-KanpurDid not respond to ET’s Queries
IIT-BHUDid not respond to ET’s Queries
IIT-HyderabadEven though it is natural for everyone to have the desire to learn in mother tongue, it is not “viable” at present.  
IIT-Goa“extensive teachers’ training is required to orient lectures in local languages”.
IIT-Kharagpurwelcomed the move saying adopting regional language in technical education is “a necessary long-term goal”.
IIT-DelhiObjected to the decision by pointing out that every student should necessarily get accessed to global research.