SynopsisDirectors 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.
New Delhi: 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.
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.
IIT-Bombay director Subhasis Chaudhary pointed out that not just IITs, 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.
“A student spends 4-5 years going through technical education but spends 30-40 years in the industry. We, as teachers, have to prepare students, however difficult it is either for us or the students, in a way that the industry finds it useful. We need to have a stakeholders’ meeting where the feedback from the industry is of supreme value. We need to assess the linguistic needs of the jobs that our graduates will man tomorrow. Various industrial bodies should take up the issue, discuss threadbare and provide appropriate feedback to the task force. Once the issue is settled, only then can we ask the question of viability,” the IIT-Bombay director said in response to ET queries on the issue.
“English, as a medium of instruction in higher education, was thrust on us about 164 years ago through the Wood’s Despatch, and if we are collectively convinced that it’s time is up, then we should possibly do a very long-term planning on how to deboard English out of us and not our march to technological developments,” the director cautioned.
IIT-Delhi director V Ramgopal Rao pointed the need for students’ access to global research.
“Nobody should be disadvantaged due to the language barrier. I strongly advocate conducting of the JEE Advanced exam in various regional languages to broaden access to IITs. Thereafter, we need to help students with bridge courses to get a reasonable grip on the English language. Apart from our own textbooks and classroom teaching, an IIT student needs to be exposed to global research to manage the jobs of tomorrow. That is currently only available in the English language,” Rao told ET.
He said this was a serious academic issue which needs detailed discussion in the IIT Senates.
Directors of IIT-Madras, IIT-Kanpur and BHU — who are on the task force set up by the education ministry –– did not respond to ET’s queries.
BS Murty, director, IIT-Hyderabad, said while it was natural for everyone to have the desire to learn in mother tongue, it is not “viable” at present.
IIT-Goa director, who is part of the content development team for offering technical courses in various languages, said “extensive teachers’ training is required to orient lectures in local languages”.
IIT-Kharagpur director, VK Tiwari, welcomed the move saying adopting regional language in technical education is “a necessary long-term goal”.
He conceded that this required teachers to be proficient in the regional language along with English besides having textbooks and reference material in the local languages and advocated technological aids for the same.
“For example, at IIT-Kharagpur, we can have a hub with an optional language-assisted learning to focus on Bengali, Telugu and Hindi and even other languages such as Odia, Tamil etc in some subject areas depending on the availability of teachers and choices by students who need language assistance in classroom teaching,” he replied.