Think of doing B. Tech in Malayalam and taking exams in your mother tongue? Surprised? It may be possible now. Taking a cue from the National Education Policy, the Central government has already announced that engineering courses in the mother tongue can be started in select IITs and NITs from next year.
A committee has been constituted to prepare the outline for the engineering course in Hindi at the IIT-Banaras Hindu University. How do the teachers, students and professionals view the new move? Here are the three major streams of opinions.
Knowledge or language?
It has been said for many years that teaching should be in the local language. It is good to learn subjects, especially the technical subjects, in one’s own mother tongue as it aids in-depth understanding. Most important is knowledge and not language.
In countries like Germany, English is not compulsory for finding a job. However, students should grasp English as a language for communication and exchanging ideas.
The study of language and study of subjects should not be mixed up. However, education in the mother tongue cannot be started at one go. There has to be effective teaching tools and journals for providing education in the mother tongue. The Bhasha Institute had tried to bring out engineering books in Malayalam sometime back. Unfortunately, the effort didn’t get much publicity.
(RVG Menon, educationist and former principal of Government Engineering College, Kannur)
Impractical in multi-lingual country
It is not at all easy to impart technical education in your mother tongue in a country like India which has so many local/regional languages. Institutions like IIT have teachers and students from all parts of the country. Just imagine teaching a course in Tamil at IIT Madras!
There are several technical terms in engineering subjects. It is an arduous task to find similar technical terms for these in the local language. How will you find a Malayalam term for "Null Point" in computer science?
The knowledge of English is essential for jobs in multinational companies. At the same time, technical education should not be denied just because of lack of English language. The solution lies in having a high-breed education approach with education-assisting tools in the mother tongue as well.
For a student doing mechanical engineering watching a video in his own language will be enough to understand about car manufacturing in a better way.
(Kaviraj Nair, senior executive in International IT Firms and IIT Madras alumnus.)
Not practical in professional courses
Education in mother tongue is not a practical option for those joining professional courses to get jobs. If a subject has to be grasped properly and presented effectively then one is required to know English. It will be possible only if the education is imparted in English.
Most of our teachers take classes mixing English and Malayalam. Those who have studied in Malayalam medium may find it difficult to understand certain technical terms in English. However, the student has to overcome this difficulty at some stage and wouldn’t it be right if it happens in the campus itself?
(R P Govind, student, College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram)