‘The regional linguistic reform has been highly anticipated’: the Union’s education minister tells HT
The measure to provide technical education in regional languages from 2021 aims to ensure equity, especially taking into account rural students, but “there will be no compromise on the quality of IITs,” said the education minister of the Union, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, to HT’s Amandeep Shukla. in an email interview.
Recognizing that there were concerns from some sectors, Pokhriyal emphasized that decisions will evolve from a consultative process and will only be implemented in those IITs that are ready. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Q) It has formed a working group on the teaching of technical engineering in regional languages. Are Indian institutions prepared for such a change?
A) I think the reform has been eagerly awaited by institutes of higher education and students studying in regional languages. Our vision emanates from the National Education Policy (NEP) which recommends that “More HEIs and more higher education programs will use the mother / local language as a medium of instruction and / or offer bilingual programs”. The Official Language Commission, the Committee for Emotional Integration, the National Education Policy (1968), the National Education Policy (1986/1992) – each report, while recommending the use of the Indian language as a medium of instruction, also He said that Indian languages are a sine qua non (something that is fundamental if something in particular is to be achieved) for the educational and cultural development of our nation, enunciating the notion of ‘Equity in Education’.
I am very encouraged by the support of many thinkers, intellectuals and even some directors of IIT and NIT towards the initiative. We have also decided to take the JEE exam in regional languages so that students are not disadvantaged due to language.
This reform will help talented students in rural areas study in their languages without feeling alienated. This policy initiative will positively benefit students from rural and remote areas.
Many IITs, such as IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorkee, have already taken steps to promote the use of regional languages in their teaching during the first year. IIT Kharagpur has started with the development of a policy framework for regional language education not only in schools but also in technical institutes so that the language does not become a barrier to learning.
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Q) Some heads of leading institutions have expressed doubts, reservations or even caution against the measure. How do you plan to move forward?
A) One of the main concerns is the classification and quality of the IITs. I reiterate that “there will be no compromise with the quality of the IIT.” We want IITs to be world class. We have declared many IITs as Institutes of Eminence (IBE).
So far, the Ministry of Education has taken the approach that all implementation modalities will be carried out through a consultative process. The modalities of implementation of this decision will also be taken after due deliberation and consultation. I have taken the initiative in holding the first meeting to seek suggestions and understand the issues involved. At this meeting, it was decided to establish a working group to examine all the threadbare issues. Now that the task force is created, there should be no arrests.
Q) Many of our institutions have made a name for themselves worldwide by teaching in English. How will you ensure that this value remains intact? That there is no dilution of standards.
A) We are creating a conducive environment for students studying in regional languages to excel in technical courses. I think the overall quality will improve because when students understand the concepts in their native language, they can think better. We never said that English would disappear, and we only say that in addition to English, an environment should be created in higher education institutes where students of regional languages can also excel.
Many countries have excellent educational systems and do not use English as a medium of instruction. If we can educate our students in the mother tongue as well, along with English, we will ensure that we can make citizens of the world who at the same time speak out in favor of the local.
Q) Is it possible that that step can be taken in the next session? What are the languages in which the courses can be started?
A) The implementation of the regional language in technical courses will be carried out in a phased manner, starting in 2021. This initiative will be implemented in those IITs that are ready. We understand that there are many problems that start with the quality of the textbooks, the reference material, the training of teachers to teach in their mother tongue, the use of technology to connect various institutes where teachers are available to teach in the mother tongue, etc. disburse the detailed plan for its implementation.
Q) There has been a demand to take the Common Admission Test (CAT) in Hindi and also in other languages. What are your opinions on this?
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A) I am pleased that the IIMs have already taken the lead in initiating a discussion on conducting the CAT examination in the Annex VIII languages. I think CAT applicants will appreciate the language option when available.
Q) The 2020-21 academic session has been greatly affected by the pandemic. How do you plan the next academic session? What would the next school or college year look like for students?
A) I have been conducting rigorous, participatory, and inclusive consultations with students, teachers, and parents. I have invited your suggestions and concerns and will respond to you on December 17th.
Q) Is it possible that in the next few years there may be purely online schools?
A) Currently, no proposal for pure-line schools is being examined. Digital or online learning cannot replace the teaching-learning process in the classroom, particularly at the basic and primary levels. However, blended learning will be the new normal.
Q) A group of ministers led by his cabinet colleague Dharmendra Pradhan recently suggested distributing devices to students to bridge the digital divide. Can the Center help students who are struggling?
A) The Government of Mexico is examining various issues related to e-learning. The Ministry of Education will be strengthening the ICT facilities in primary, secondary and sr. public high schools following NEP recommendations. We are providing Smart Boards in government high schools and senior high schools.