Updated: July 3, 2022 3:50:53 pm
Six months ago when he was taking admission in a computer engineering course at a college in Pune’s Akurdi area, 19-year-old Atharva Ingle did not know that his batch would be a historic one. The Akola resident is one of 65 students enrolled in the Marathi-language course at the Pimpri Chinchwad College of Engineering (PCCOE), the only college in the country that has recorded full admission in its new division to teach engineering in the mother tongue.
Announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year and covered under the National Education Policy, the plan to teach engineering to students in their mother tongue was rolled out last year by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 19 selected engineering colleges across the country.
“This emphasis on mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instill confidence in students from poor, rural and tribal backgrounds,” Modi had said.
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While it was assumed that the opportunity to learn in their mother tongue would entice many to seek admission in such courses, the ground reality is different.
Out of the 19 engineering colleges approved to start regional language divisions, nine did not get a single admission, while in the ten other colleges, batches are less than 50 per cent full, AICTE chairman Anil Sahastrabuddhe said.
“I think the concept is new and people were not even aware that such an option was available. There should have been more efforts to spread the word. It’s not as if the concept is not popular, because this year, 10 more colleges will be offering the regional language courses,” he said.
Lack of awareness is what Avijit Karmakar, principal of the Technique Polytechnic Institute in Hooghly blames for the Bengali-language diploma in electrical engineering having few takers. Only 16 of the 60 seats on offer were filled this year.
“It’s still 30 per cent admissions, which isn’t bad for the first year. Firstly, students are not aware of this option and secondly, they are sceptical because for them, engineering educations means studying in English or they won’t get jobs. It took some counselling even to fill the 16 seats,” he said.
However, at the Pune college, admissions were not only full in the first year itself, but has exceeded the number of seats on offer — 65 admissions against 60 sanctioned seats.
The starkly different experience of this college compared to others involved in the programme across the country, make it an important model to study. The AICTE has expanded engineering education in regional languages to 10 more colleges, and Modi has called for medical education also to be imparted in regional languages.
Ashwini Vaze, academic coordinator, regional language course, at the PCCOE said college authorities had convinced several parents to enrol their children in the course. “It’s not as if students were over excited to take admissions. In fact, we convinced a lot of parents to let their wards get admitted in this course. The computer engineering course at our college, which has 240 seats, is very popular and cutoffs are very high. When parents came for counselling, if the seat was getting missed by a few marks, we suggested to many to take admission in the regional language course where they could get the same degree, but cutoff was slightly less.”
Some parents had demanded at the time of the orientation for the course that the students be allowed to study in English through an internal transfer, but college authorities refused. “…(But) We reminded them that they came in knowing the conditions, of learning in Marathi, so they would have to stick to it,” said Dr Govind N Kulkarni, director, PCCOE.
However, the course isn’t being taught in the mother tongue alone, with a hybrid model having emerged in the college.
“The teachers speak in Marathi and students answer in Marathi, but the books are in English. Orals and practicals are conducted in Marathi, but for written exams, students are given the choice to answer in either language,” said Sheetal Bhandari, dean of academics at the college.
On why such a model was adopted despite clear instructions from the AICTE to teach students only in their mother tongues, she said: “Before starting the course, we did research for several months. We used our network and gathered 120 engineering aspirants and conducted a workshop in batches of 10, where we taught them basic concepts of Mathematics and Science in Marathi. The feedback we got was the conceptual understanding was better, but they found it difficult to follow technical terms in Marathi. Later, when we got the Marathi books from AICTE, we realised that the meaning of some words changed or were lost in translation,” she said.
The college then identified four academic content experts to convert English books into Marathi, but later dropped that plan.
“We decided to let the books and course content remain in English. In Maharashtra, Plus-two education after Class 10 is compulsorily in English for students of the Science stream. The students who have come to us are from English or semi-English medium. They understand concepts in English, and to make them unlearn and relearn technical terms would only confuse them. Hence, we came up with this hybrid model, where the books are in English but the teacher teaches in Marathi and their own notes are in Marathi. The idea is to make their conceptual learning better, not to compete among languages,” she said.
The hybrid model was adopted not just for ease of teaching, but also keeping in mind the employability of the students.
“We covered all our tracks before starting this course. We did a survey of over 100 hiring managers who recruit from our campus and asked them if they would hire candidates from a strictly Marathi-only course, and frankly, they said no. Their feedback was these students have to make presentations, represent company to clients abroad and product strategies for which they should have basic knowledge of English. Eventually we need these students to get hired, so we decided on a hybrid model,” said PCCOE director Kulkarni.
The college identified teachers from its existing workforce who had either studied in Marathi or were comfortable in delivering content in the same. The teachers were even made to deliver demo sessions to existing students in other courses before taking on teaching this new batch.
Enrolled students say the hybrid model works well.
“Even in Western nations, they teach in their mother tongue and several research studies have said that learning in local languages makes learning stronger. I took admission in this course because I was intrigued and wanted to try something new. Since, until junior college, I studied in English, I was comfortable with books being in that language but yes, there is a huge difference in understanding concepts when the teacher teaches in Marathi,” said Prasad Joshi, a student from Aurangabad.
There are even non-Marathi speaking students in the course. Academic coordinator Vaze said 10 per cent of the batch does not speak Marathi at home.
Sahil Totla, another Aurangabad resident, comes from a Marwari family and has studied in an English medium school. Marathi is not his mother tongue.
“Actually, I wanted to study computer engineering in this college so when I couldn’t get into the regular batch, I thought why not this option? They said that in the first year, the weightage of Marathi to English will be 20:80 and by fourth year, the Marathi component will become 80 per cent, allowing me time to adjust. And in any case, I understand Marathi. So far, I haven’t faced any problem,” he said.
Kulkarni is acutely aware of the pressure of performance on this batch.
“I think a lot depends on the final outcome of this batch regarding whether this experiment will succeed or fail. How the industry perceives them and hires them is a big question. Under NEP, we have this dream of learning even professional courses in the mother tongue, but whether it is doable or not will depend on the performance of this batch. That’s why even we have decided not to start any new division for learning in the mother tongue till this batch passes out and we see what happens,” he said.
|Sr No||Institute Name||State||Course Name||Approved Intake||Enrolled Students||Language|
|1||IPS ACADEMY INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING SCIENCE, INDORE||MADHYA PRADESH||Computer Science Engineering||60||0||HINDI|
|2||TECHNIQUE POLYTECHNIC ISTITUTE||WEST BENGAL||ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING||60||16||BENGALI|
|3||DEENBANDHU CHOTURAM UNIVERSITY OF SCI AND TECH||HARYANA||ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING||30||0||HINDI|
|DEENBANDHU CHOTURAM UNIVERSITY OF SCI AND TECH||HARYANA||MECHANICAL ENGINEERING||30||0||HINDI|
|4||GURU JAMBHESHWAR UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY||HARYANA||ELECTRICAL COMMUNICATION ENGINEERING||30||0||HINDI|
|GURU JAMBHESHWAR UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY||HARYANA||MECHANICAL ENGINEERING||30||0||HINDI|
|GURU JAMBHESHWAR UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY||HARYANA||COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING||30||0||HINDI|
|GURU JAMBHESHWAR UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY||HARYANA||INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY||30||0||HINDI|
|5||J C BOSE UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY||HARYANA||MECHANICAL ENGINEERING||30||12||HINDI|
|J C BOSE UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY||HARYANA||COMPUTER ENGINEERIG||30||23||HINDI|
|6||POORNIMA COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING||RAJASTHAN||COMPUTER ENGINEERING||60||22||HINDI
|7||POORNIMA COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING||RAJASTHAN||COMPUTER ENGINEERING||60||0||HINDI
|8||AJAY KUMAR GARG ENGINEERING COLLEGE||UTTAR PRADESH||COMPUTER ENGINEERING||60||0||HINDI|
|9||G L BAJAJ INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT||UTTAR PRADESH||COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING||60||39||HINDI|
|10||NOIDA INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY||UTTAR PRADESH||COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING||60||19||HINDI|
|11||PSIT – PRANVEER SINGH INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY||UTTAR PRADESH||COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING||60||0||HINDI|
|12||GRAPHIC ERA DEEMED TO BE UNIVERSITY||UTTARAKHAND||COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING||60||1||HINDI|
|GRAPHIC ERA DEEMED TO BE UNIVERSITY||UTTARAKHAND||MECHNICAL ENGINEERING||60||0||HINDI|
|GRAPHIC ERA DEEMED TO BE UNIVERSITY||UTTARAKHAND||ELECTRONICS COMMUNICATION ENGINEERING||60||0||HINDI|
|13||NRI INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY||ANDHRA PRADESH||COMPUTER SCIENCE ENGINEERING||60||13||TELUGU|
|14||BHEEMANNA KHANDRE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY||KARNATAKA||CIVIL ENGINEERING||30||0||KANNADA|
|15||MAHARAJA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, MYSORE||KARNATAKA||MECHANICAL ENGINEERING||30||0||KANNADA|
|16||S J C INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY||KARNATAKA||CIVIL ENGINEERING||30||0||KANNADA|
|17||ERODE SENGUNTHAR ENGINEERING||TAMIL NADU||MECHANICAL ENGINEERING||60||15||TAMIL|
|18||RATHINAM TECHNICAL CAMPUS||TAMIL NADU||COMPUTER SCIENCE ENGINEERING||60||35||TAMIL
|19||PIMPRI CHINCHWAD COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING||MAHARASHTRA||COMPUTER ENGINEERING||60||60||MARATHI|
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