Localise learning: It is better for students to learn in the language they can understand.
According to the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, “wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Class 5, but preferably till Class 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother tongue/local language/regional language.” While this is not mandatory, research proves that it has its benefits like effective learning in communities where children have minimal or no proficiency in English, and can help reduce the number of dropouts and increase student participation.
First of all, it allowed us to respond quickly to the situation. Within two to three weeks of school closures, we were able to reach out to five lakh students in Delhi with ‘At-home’ learning packs. We were able to take similar steps with a few other State partners. So the advantage was that we had the resources in place to deliver.
How can education in regional languages be made more effective in the context of opportunities for higher education, jobs or research?
If you are a learner in a regional language, the first priority should be to build a solid foundation in your early schooling years, right up to Middle School. If you can solidify your understanding of Math, Science and Language in your own language, you are ready to pursue it further in the language of your choice. But here’s where things beyond our purview come into play like: Are there enough high-quality education institutes in local languages where students can pursue advanced careers?
There is research coming out globally about mixed learning, where a student has to learn both a subject like Math and the language it is taught in. We are making life difficult for students. So, at least initially, it is better for students to learn in the language they can understand. That way, they can just focus on the subject.
In an evolving education scenario, what is the way forward?
Technology can be used to empower teachers. So, leveraging technology in a classroom with a human who can guide the students in the early years is going to be the most effective method.