Despite the government’s push for regional languages in both school and higher education, most of the students prefer studying in an English-medium institute. Many cite lack of quality content in both online and offline mode, lack of job opportunities as key reasons behind their preference.
“What is the future after learning local languages?,” asked SA Harivinayak, a student of Amritha Sanskrit Higher Secondary School who has studied in a school with Malayalam as a mode of instruction. He claims that lack of opportunity pulls back students from studying in their mother tongue. “As compared to languages like English which are foreign, the Indian languages do not have as many job opportunities despite being a native language,” he said.
English is considered a globally accepted language and can be useful to survive in any corner of the world, adds Harivinayak. “To ensure students study in local languages we first have to give these languages prominence.”
Competitive Exams Based on Central & not State Board
Not just jobs, to ensure a seat in a decent college, students claim that central and English-medium boards are helpful. Goutam Das, the JEE Main topper from Odisha claims he had to move from Odia or the state board to join an English-medium school to prepare better for the national level entrance exams.
“There was no preparation for entrance tests in state board affiliated schools and focuses is more on state board exams. I couldn’t participate in any Olympiad while studying on the CHSE board as the syllabus is not covered for the exam or any such tests,” said Das.
State boards often put emphasis on the regional languages more than the central board where most of the teachings are in English. While the government has asked exam conducting bodies to hold entrances for jobs and college admissions in regional languages as well, many claim that it is hard to find at-par content in local languages.
Lack of Quality Content
Nikhil Srivastav, a teacher for junior kids at the NGO Room to Read says it is preferable to teach children from a young age in their own mother tongue as they understand that better, however, most of the books are either available in Hindi or English.
“We should provide instruction to children in local language but the government should develop some instructional material in prominent local languages so teachers like me can also help children in learning and make the interaction much more meaningful especially in the grade 1 when first-time children come to schools,” explained Srivastava
While Sachin and Baggu, whose children study at the NGO believe that his children will only get employment if he knows the Hindi language “as work in offices happens in Hindi.”
“Children speak many languages and many of them are different from the official language of instruction. It is, therefore, a challenge for literacy practitioners to transition children from their home language to the school language, while being conscious of not stamping out the children’s own utterances in the school,” says the NGO.
Several ed-tech platforms are now introducing content in regional languages, Khan Academy, a US-based firm has expanded to offer content in Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, and Punjabi. Besides, it is planning to start teaching in Marathi and Assamese.
For the most part, it is the lack of content in local dialects that makes people settle for the more popular languages — English and Hindi. AICTE has recently allowed 20 of its engineering colleges to teach in languages other than English and is in the process of preparing content on the same. Keeping the ‘global’ opportunities in mind, AICTE has asked colleges to hold mandatory English communication classes for students studying in local languages too.