Use of local language possible only if varsities are prepared for launch, says academic

UGC suggests that all universities use local language for teaching-learning processes

April 19, 2023 10:49 pm | Updated 10:49 pm IST

With University Grants Commission chairman Jagadesh M. Kumar on Wednesday urging universities to allow students to write answers in the regional language even if the medium of instruction is English, has triggered a debate among academics in Tamil Nadu.

The University of Madras already permits students to write the answers in Tamil. The question paper is set in English and Tamil.

Anna University offers two disciplines in Tamil: mechanical and civil engineering. The disciplines are taught in the University’s departments and a few constituent colleges. The number of candidates opting for the programmes has, however, been falling drastically over the years.

For many years, the students have been complaining about lack of books in Tamil. The University began offering the courses in 2008 but over the years, the job opportunities dwindled in the government departments. In 2021, the All India Council for Technical Education announced that engineering programmes would be offered in regional languages as well. The Council began translating subject books, including Tamil.

The AICTE hit a bottleneck as writers who could translate technical books were hard to come by.

Anna University had started creating notes and writing/translating engineering books in Tamil, but the effort faded in a few years.

“We have not translated or written new books in Tamil for the past 12 years. There was a consciousness for the initial two years but after that no book was written or translated,” a source said.

However, for the past six months efforts are being made through Anna University’s Centre for Tamil Development to write books, the source added.  

Madurai Kamaraj University Vice-Chancellor J. Kumar said most of the courses offered by the Institute of Distance Education are being conducted in Tamil and English, and study materials are provided to the students. 

“Through the University’s EMRC 23 Swayam, courses have been translated from English to Tamil and they are also available in audio form,” he added. 

Former V-C of Madras University S.P. Thyagarajan said, “The UGC’s proposal is a welcome decision, but background preparatory work must be done so that the benefit reaches the students. Else it would put students in a lot of trouble.” 

The University of Madras had initiated such a move several decades ago and it was well received at that time, he added.

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