Vice-chancellors of central and state universities will now have to consider the prospects of offering full-time courses in STEM and other disciplines, including professional programmes in Indian languages once the UGC draws the blueprint.
The initial attempts to introduce regional language in the IITs proved to be challenging owing to the diverse student composition, lack of requisite faculty and study materials in the native tongue.
Yogesh Singh, vice-chancellor, University of Delhi, explains that the move might benefit only a certain section of students, but English and Hindi will continue to remain the popular mediums of instruction. “We cannot have a mix of languages in the teaching-learning process, making it imperative to have dedicated departments that can work solely towards a particular medium of instruction. Regional languages may put students at a disadvantage while opting for global careers, unless they choose to give equal importance to English to access international reference books and periodicals,” he says.
JN Baliya, head, Department of Educational Studies, Central University of Jammu, however, stresses that students will not have any problem in competing globally in their respective fields. “They will have better conceptual clarity if they are taught through regional languages which is a global practice in the developed countries.”
Equity and inclusion
The inclusion of regional languages is in sync with NEP 2020 guidelines, Baliya says, adding, “One of the main principles of the Policy is the promotion of multilingualism. This will offer full equity and inclusion to students who studied in the regional medium.”
As to whether it is possible to integrate digital learning tools and the framework with Indian languages so that all students can access quality learning material in their mother tongue, he says, “This will be beneficial for the minority and marginalised communities. However, this will demand conversion of every digital learning tool in the Indian context.”
Education for the masses may be possible by rapid translation enterprise through adequate funding and co-ordination, but it is important to get local data and provide gadgets to the remote interiors, where digital learning will have a key role to play, says Sayantan Dasgupta, associate professor, Department of Comparative Literature and coordinator, Centre for Translation of Indian Literatures, Jadavpur University.
“For translating technical subjects, it is essential to arrive at a consensus about a list of technical terms and their equivalence in the regional languages,” he says. With 22 Scheduled languages and 760 languages outside it (as per the People’s Linguistic Survey), providing indigenous course material may reduce the number of dropouts, but its implementation, going by the limited success of the National Translation Mission, has to be carefully planned,” Dasgupta adds.
While emphasising on regional languages, courses in communicative English is a must for students to remain rooted to India and compete at a global level. “Since in any university, there will be always a certain percentage of students who may not have studied in the English medium, the pedagogy should be moulded in such a way that both English and the local language are blended as a medium of communication,” Dasgupta explains.