The first engineering course in the Marathi medium has received a good response from students with all the 68 seats taken in Pimpri Chinchwad College of Engineering (PCCOE), the only college that offers it, reports Times of India.
The report adds –
“The officials said that they are offering lectures in a blend of English and Marathi with an option to students that they can write answers during examinations in any of the two languages. Students on the other hand have varied reasons to choose this course.
While the majority said that they were more comfortable learning concepts in Marathi and asking doubts in Marathi as compared to English, some said that they did not mind the medium as long as they were getting admission in computer science branch.
G N Kulkarni, director of PCCOE, said, “We have an intake of 68 and it is full. The teachers are teaching in both Marathi and English. The learning material is in English as of now but students can choose the mode of examination as either English or Marathi. Faculty members teaching this division are well versed with the language and have also undergone training in the same. We are also thinking of appointing two Marathi language experts if the need arises.”
On whether the college will open more divisions in Marathi in different branches of engineering, Kulkarni said that he would like to wait for four years for these students to graduate and depending on their placements, think about emulating it in other branches.
Sanjivani Sonar, head of the department of Computer Engineering in Regional Language at PCCOE, said that the highest and lowest cut-off percentile in the batch has been 97.01 and 92.33 (general) respectively. About 66.7% of the students are from urban background while the remaining come from rural areas and about 75% of the students completed their schooling (till class X) in English medium schools.
“We also conducted a survey to get feedback from the students and it has been very positive. There are about 7% students enrolled whose mother tongue is not even Marathi,” Sonar said.
This is a welcome development, although the lack of course learning material in Marathi is disappointing. Making higher education available in Bharatiya languages is the first step, equally crucial is developing pathways to employment for such students in collaboration with industry, along with developing a thriving translation and publishing sector for world-class technical content to be made available in native languages. Both central and state governments must facilitate this on a war-footing.
It is telling that despite 75% of all students who opted for this Marathi-medium engineering course having done schooling in English medium schools, the majority still said they were more comfortable learning concepts in Marathi and asking doubts in Marathi as compared to English.
Even the schools and colleges which currently offer only English-medium college should take this learning to heart – do not discourage students from asking doubts or expressing themselves in their mother tongue. One hopes the days when convent schools imposed fines or punished students for even talking in their mother tongue during recess or breaks are past us – shaming children for expressing themselves in the language they are most comfortable is a human rights violation and a marker of mental colonization.
English language proficiency is NOT a measure of intellectual ability – this message must be drilled into heads of all our policy makers, intelligentsia and academia. The kind of arrogance and contempt for ordinary citizens our system of English apartheid has bred in elites like Mahua Moitra is beyond belief.
One hopes that what this college in Pimpri-Chinchwad has done is emulated elsewhere. Madhya Pradesh has also made similar attempts, despite opposition from usual corners, and this is an ongoing exercise that will require larger allocation of resources to create high-quality content in Bharatiya languages and train teachers too. A mixed Hindi-English approach to learning and teaching will be the best for Hindi-speaking states, and likewise in other states. English must be taught, but just as a link language to the outer world.
If we really want to join the league of developed nations, we must study how countries like Japan, Korea, China made the leap from agrarian to industrialized societies. Persisting with an English-language barrier to higher education/knowledge/employment for 90-95% of our population that cannot speak the English language, is just inhuman and a relic of the mental colonization we have failed to shake off even 75 years after Independence.
During my college days, I noticed that those who had studied in their native languages were always more patriotic, more original thinkers, more focused on serving their communities than those who had studied in English. Difference was quite stark. Since then (this is in 70s) I have been convinced that native languages are the way to go.