Technological education in vernacular languages will promote equity to all social groups – opines Pranav Gupta, Founder Ashoka University

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According to a 2020 India Spend review, use of native language in early education can enhance performance, boost engagement and reduce dropout rates. At the most fundamental base, vernacular languages hold a crucial position to impart a holistic education as it becomes essential for an effective learning process. Pranav Gupta Ashoka University Founder shares, “Debates and arguments on the importance of regional dialects continue to erupt over the past several years. The use of regional languages in education has remained a matter of several worries. Because of the linguistic gap, the upsides of higher education do not spread to every part of the nation. As a result, students belonging to different communities who are not proficient with English language often have a hard time comprehending the lectures delivered in English-language.”

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 promotes mastering the native language in addition to other languages. It enables students to study their mother tongue, Hindi, English and a regional language. NEP 2020 highlights the value of vernacular languages in bridging the language divide that may exist between a student’s native language and their medium of instruction. To fulfill the educational requirements of people from different social classes, particular importance must be given to student needs related to their native tongue.

According to an UNESCO report, Mother Tongue Matters, it was highlighted that a student’s multilingual comprehension in mother tongue greatly improves the learner results. The native language is a prominent language and fundamental subject in vernacular schools. It shows that every region has their unique culture and dialects that encourage diversity and richness.

Pranav Gupta opines on the importance of promoting regional language to foster equity and fairness. “We should strive to provide distinctive, timely educational opportunities of the finest caliber for students at the most affordable manner, all of which should be firmly rooted in the principle of equality for all. Educators expend their time trying to impart knowledge in English language to children who are unable to comprehend it. Judging the level of language skill is subjective. When concepts are conveyed using well-known words and contexts, students learn more quickly and retain the information easily.”

The mastery of a particular language has little to do with scientific achievement and nations without a working grasp of the English language such as China, Japan and Russia have become the front-runners in that field. The paradox in India is that for decades, we adhered to Lord Macaulay’s educational philosophy, leading to the availability and predominance of English-language in all significant science material and textbooks.

With most developed nations providing accessibility of the best science books and programmes in their own dialects for years, India has now decided to take the lead in contemporary science and technology impartation in Indian regional languages. One of the main goals of the current Government of India is to advance scientific knowledge and education in regional dialects. Efforts are being made to provide students with science textbooks in their vernacular languages.

It will help in promotion of science communication and level the playing field for all aspiring young individuals who want to engage in science without facing any disadvantage due to a lack of knowledge of English or Hindi. Recently, the government of Bhopal issued three MBBS textbooks in Hindi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was commended for his efforts to promote regional languages in international forums. By allowing students to pursue medical and technological education in Hindi as well as other languages, the Indian government is transforming the post-Independence ‘brain drain’ idea into ‘brain gain’.

“Studying in our own language helps us gather information in a deeper manner. Learning in a vernacular language can help students develop critical thinking abilities when they get the chance to comprehend different points of view. It can make the educational environment more comfortable for the students as it would hold their interest in the subject and keep them hooked. The untapped skill potential of India will be revealed through a large-scale shift from English to vernacular-based education. The government is set out on a quest to offer engineering and medical training in Hindi and other languages. Admission tests are also provided in 12 different languages.” states Pranav Gupta Ashoka University Founder

NEP 2020 is an effort to push learning systems in that direction as they converge. Digital integration has rendered English-based information accessible to all, though regional information remains restricted. Education Technology (EdTech) platforms have a strong motivation to promote Indian language keyboards, entry format and scripts, due to initiatives like Digital India. EdTech platforms must develop alternative educational materials in regional languages like Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telegu, etc to serve the populace from different sections of the society.

“For students and professionals who choose native languages as learning medium, platforms for educational technology should think about customizing their domains to accommodate regional languages. Technological education in vernacular languages will promote equity and accessibility to all social groups. All of this will mark a turning point in the realm of education and its regeneration,” asserts Pranav Gupta Ashoka University.