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Sub-standard courses forced 110 engineering colleges to shut shop in 2017-19. (Photo: HT)
Sub-standard courses forced 110 engineering colleges to shut shop in 2017-19. (Photo: HT)

Engineering in 'mother tongue' in select national institutes from 2021, says education ministry

  • The ministry decision comes, months after it decided to conduct joint entrance exam (JEE) in 11 languages from 2021 from just three as is the current practice

NEW DELHI : The union education ministry Thursday announced that it will push for technical education especially engineering in mother tongue from next academic year and some of the top engineering schools in the country will offer them from 2021-21 academic year.

“A seminal decision was made to start technical education, especially engineering courses imparting education in mother tongue will be opened from next academic year," the education ministry said Thursday.

“A few Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) are being short listed for the same," the ministry said in a statement after an internal meeting headed by the education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.

However, the ministry did not divulge further details about who are these IITs and NITs where engineering education can be started from 2021 and is India ready to adopt mother tongue teaching in technical education dominated by the English language.

“The content in regional languages for science, technology and engineering subjects are scarce. The 2021 academic year is not far and getting logistically ready will be a herculean task," said a government official who declined to be named.

“But the challenge is how to do it effectively in an IIT or a NIT? It’s an operational challenge, it’s a content challenge, it’s a delivery challenge at least immediately. Do we have teachers to let’s say computer science or machine learning or even core engineering," the official added.

The ministry decision comes, months after it decided to conduct joint entrance exam (JEE) in 11 languages from 2021 from just three as is the current practice. But data from the National Testing Agency (NTA) has showed that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) conducted in several languages are not a great success story.

Data gleaned from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) showed that while 79.1% of aspirants gave their entrance examination in English, only 12.8% opted for Hindi and an even lower 8.12% for all other regional languages combined in 2020. Excluding English and Hindi, 3.7% of the total registered candidates of NEET gave their exams in Gujarati, 2.29% in Bengali and 1.07% in Tamil, Mint reported on 20 October.

The clear preference for taking the NEET entrance in English came at a time the new National Education Policy (NEP) has suggested promotion of local languages. The education minister said Thursday that his ministry is working to ensure proper implementation of NEP, with an aim to achieve holistic development of students and transformation of Education system in the country.

The unnamed official, cited above said that some of the NITs can be given the responsibility to start engineering courses in mother tongue as they admit a portion of their students via domicile quota in each state.

The ministry also said that it was “decided that National Testing Agency will come out with the syllabus for competitive examinations after assessment of the existing scenario in various boards" and it was also “decided that a campaign would be launched by the Education Ministry to seek views from students, parents and teachers on how and when to conduct the exams next year".

This means, some entrance exams may get delayed in 2021 due to the delay in education calendar in 2020 following the covid-19 disruptions. An education ministry spokesperson said there is nothing more to add beyond what the ministry has informed in the statement and the NTA chairman did not respond to telephone calls and text messages seeking clarity.

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