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Daily News Analysis

USE OF LOCAL LANGUAGES

20th April, 2023 Social Issues

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Context: The University Grants Commission (UGC) pushing colleges to enable students to write answers in the regional language.

Details

UGC Guidelines

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) asks universities to allow students to write answers in their local tongue even though English is the medium of teaching

University Grants Commission (UGC)

  • It regulates and funds higher education in India.
  • It was established by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, under the Universities Act of 1978.
  • It has the power to grant recognition to universities and colleges in India, and to allocate funds to them based on their performance and quality.
  • It also monitors and maintains standards of teaching, research and examination in universities and colleges.

Significance of promoting local or regional language in higher education

  • It enhances the accessibility and quality of education for students who are more comfortable and proficient in their native language than in a foreign language.
  • It fosters the preservation and development of linguistic diversity and cultural identity, which are essential for social cohesion and national integration.
  • It encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge that is relevant and responsive to the local context and needs, as well as contributes to the global pool of scientific and scholarly information.
  • It stimulates creativity and innovation by allowing students and researchers to express their ideas and insights in their linguistic terms and styles.

Concern

Students not showing much Interest

  • The University of Madras in Tamil Nadu already allows students to write their responses in Tamil. The questions are written in both English and Tamil.
  • However, the number of people applying to the programmes has been steadily declining over the years.

Lack of Study Materials

  • Students have complained about an inadequate number of Tamil books.
  • The All-India Council for Technical Education declared in 2021 that engineering programmes would also be taught in regional languages. The Council started translating textbooks, including Tamil.
    • The AICTE encountered a barrier when it came to finding writers who could translate technical texts.

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)

  • It is a statutory body under the Ministry of Education, that regulates and accredits technical education in the country.
  • It was established in 1945 as a national-level apex advisory body.
  • Its objective is to conduct a survey on the facilities available for technical education and to promote development in a coordinated and integrated manner.
  • Its headquarters is in New Delhi

Lack of Job Opportunities

  • The number of employment opportunities in government departments has decreased. The private sector prefers an English language background.

How can UGC support the use of local or regional languages in higher education?

  • Providing financial assistance and incentives to universities and colleges that adopt the local or regional language as a medium of instruction or offer courses in such languages.
  • Developing curricula, syllabi, textbooks, learning materials, assessment tools, etc. in local or regional languages for various disciplines and levels of education.
  • Organizing workshops, seminars, conferences, training programs, etc. for faculty members, students, researchers, etc. to enhance their skills and competencies in using local or regional languages for academic purposes.
  • Establishing centres, institutes, departments, etc. for the study, research, documentation, promotion, etc. of local or regional languages and literature.
  • Collaborating with other national and international agencies and organizations that are involved in similar activities and projects related to local or regional languages.

Use of local language in Education

  • A language is a powerful tool for communication, learning and cultural expression. However, many children around do not have access to education in their mother tongue, or local language. This can have negative consequences for their academic achievement, cognitive development and identity formation.
  • According to UNESCO, at least 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language they speak or understand (UNESCO, 2016).
    • This means that millions of children are learning in a language that is unfamiliar to them, which can hinder their comprehension, motivation and participation in the classroom.

Advantages

  • Studies have shown that children who start their education in their mother tongue perform better than those who start in a second or foreign language.
  • Children develop better literacy skills in both their first and second languages and acquire more knowledge across different subjects.
  • It also promotes social inclusion, cultural diversity and respect for linguistic rights.
  • Children who learn in their mother tongue feel more confident, valued and respected by their teachers and peers.
  • They also develop a positive sense of identity and belonging to their community and culture.

Challenges

Lack of political will and support

  • Many governments and stakeholders are reluctant to adopt or implement local language education policies due to various factors such as national unity, economic development, globalisation and prestige.
  • They may also face resistance from parents or communities who perceive local languages as inferior or irrelevant to education.

Lack of resources and materials

  • Local languages often lack adequate resources and materials for teaching and learning, such as textbooks, curricula, assessments and dictionaries.
  • This can limit the quality and effectiveness of local language education programmes.

Lack of trained teachers

  • Local languages have been marginalized in many education systems, often resulting in a shortage of qualified teachers able to understand, speak and teach in a child’s mother tongue.

Lack of evidence and advocacy

  • There is a need for more evidence-based research and advocacy on the benefits and challenges of local language education. This can help inform policymakers, practitioners and communities about the best practices and strategies for using local languages in education.

Way Forward

  • Developing a clear and coherent language policy that defines the goals, roles and functions of different languages in education, as well as the criteria and mechanisms for selecting and implementing them.
  • Providing adequate training and professional development for teachers who teach in local languages or teach other languages to learners who speak local languages.
  • Developing relevant and quality curriculum materials and assessment tools that are based on the local languages, cultures and contexts of learners.
  • Providing sufficient resources and incentives for schools that use local languages or promote multilingualism among learners.
  • Establishing effective communication and collaboration among various stakeholders involved in education, such as policymakers, educators, parents, communities, civil society organizations and international agencies.
  • Raising awareness and advocacy among parents and communities about the importance and benefits of using local language in education, as well as addressing their concerns and expectations.

Conclusion

  • Using local language in education involves complex linguistic, pedagogical, sociocultural and political dimensions that need to be carefully considered and balanced. However, it also offers significant opportunities for enhancing learning outcomes, cultural diversity and social inclusion. Therefore, it is imperative to adopt a context
  • Promoting the use of local or regional languages in higher education is not only a matter of linguistic rights and justice but also a means of achieving academic excellence and social development.

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Language Panel Recommendations: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/language-panel-recommendations

PRACTICE QUESTION

Q. How can the use of local language in education affect the learning outcomes of students? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the local language as a medium of instruction or as a subject in the curriculum? How can educators and policymakers balance the need to preserve and promote local language with the demand for global competence and communication skills?

 

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/use-of-local-language-possible-only-if-varsities-are-prepared-for-launch-says-academic/article66756446.ece