Need of Multilingual Learning – UPSC GS2

Linguistic diversity in India:
  • India has been home to hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects, making its linguistic and cultural diversity the most unique in the world.
  • India’s linguistic diversity is one of the cornerstones of an ancient civilisation.
  • According to the Language Census findings in 2018,
    • India is home to 19,500 languages or dialects, of which 121 languages are spoken by 10,000 or more people in the country.
    • 196 Indian languages fall under the “endangered” category.
  • Sir C.V. Raman observed that “We must teach science in our mother tongue. Otherwise, science will become a highbrow activity. It will not be an activity in which all people can participate”.
Key initiatives undertaken to promote Multilingual Learning:
  • The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 encourages the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction till Class five but preferably till Class eight and beyond.
  • In a survey of over 83,000 students conducted by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 2020, about 44% of students voted in favour of studying engineering in their mother tongue.
  • In this regard, the AICTE collaborated with IIT Madras to translate some courses from the Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) platform into eight regional languages such as Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam and Gujarati.
  • A decision has been taken by the AICTE to permit Tech programmes in 11 native languages, in line with the NEP 2020.
Way Forward:
  • The use of mother tongue is bound to create a positive impact on learning.
  • There is a need to improve scientific and technical terminology in Indian languages that would help transform the educational experience.
  • By looking at the performance of countries like Japan, China, Korea and European countries, the policymakers, educators, and parents must realise that we have created a large English-based education system including courses such as medicine and engineering that hinders a vast number of learners in the country from accessing higher education.
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