Tuesday March 20, 2018

Now students of primary classes in Jharkhand to study in mother tongues


Ranchi: In what could be seen as good news for mother tongue lovers across the country, the students of Classes I and II in government schools in Jharkhand will be taught in their local languages from next academic session.

The step has been taken in order to reduce the dropout rate at the primary level, The Times of India reported.

According to reports, Jharkhand’s school education and literacy development department is likely to come up with schoolbooks in five widely spoken tribal languages – Santhali, Ho, Kudukh, Mundari and Khadiya – for students of the primary classes from the academic session 2016-17, helping in the slow transition of students from their mother tongue to Hindi and English.

“We had conducted a survey in which it was found that the most common reason for students to drop out from school at the primary level was the inability to understand the syllabus, which would be in Hindi and English. Keeping this in mind, we came up with the idea of publishing the course book in their mother tongue to help them understand better,” Department secretary Aradhana Patnaik said.

“In the first phase, the books will be distributed in 200 schools across the state whose 100% population speaks one of the five languages.”

ALSO READ: Now students in Punjab to learn science in their mother tongue

Welcoming the move by the state government, Dr Joga Singh, Professor and Former Head of Department of Linguistics in Punjabi University, Patiala told NewsGram that it was essential to impart education in mother tongues as it would bring in good results for the country.

“This will certainly achieve the desired result i.e. to check out the dropout rate. It is attested by all international research on education that children do not learn well when they are taught in a language which they don’t understand,” he said.

“It needs to be highlighted that many states in India are imparting education in Hindi in government schools where Hindi is not the mother tongue of the children of these states, e.g. Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, Bihar, Chhatisgarh and some others. Due to the opacity of the medium of education in the government schools, these states are lagging educationally behind other states where the official language is the mother tongue of the children, e.g. Punjab, Tamilnadu, etcetera. This needs to be set right immediately,” Singh said.

The Professor added that teaching in an opaque language is a violence on children which causes a severe sense of alienation and several other psychological impairments. 

“It not only results in a rupture between child and the school but also between school and the social milieu, in general, which, consequently, negatively affects the achievement of societal goals of education.”

He, however, cautioned that primary education in mother tongues would not suffice.

“Until and unless other domains of public life i.e. higher educational institutes, offices do not adopt mother tongues, we would not be able to see the desired change. This does not mean we should stop striving. Imparting education in mother tongues is also economically more viable.”

The Jharkhand Council of Educational Research and Training (JCERT) will publish the books and the syllabus has been prepared in this regard whereas testing of books will begin before long.

The newspaper quoted the Annual Status of Education Report 2014 showing the dismal dropout rate in the state.

“While 4.3% children of the state between 6 and 14 years of age are out of school, 29.6% of students studying in Class 2 cannot even recognize letters.”

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Microsoft AI translates Chinese to English like humans

The researchers taught the system to repeat the process of translating the same sentence over and over

Microsoft to pay $250,000 to help them catch chip bugs. Wikimedia Commons
Microsoft to pay $250,000 to help them catch chip bugs. Wikimedia Commons
  • Microsoft creates a new kind of AI
  • This can translate Chinese to English just like humans
  • The translator makes little mistakes

A team of Microsoft researchers, including one of Indian-origin, has created an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered machine system that can translate sentences of news articles from Chinese to English with the same quality and accuracy as humans.

Researchers from the company’s Asia and US labs said their system achieved human parity on a commonly-used test set of news stories — called “newstest2017” — that was released at a conference recently, a blog post said late on Wednesday.

Microsoft acquired the start-up PlayFab. Pixabay
This Ai can expertly translate Chinese into English. Pixabay

According to Arul Menezes, an IIT-Bombay alumni and Partner Research Manager of Microsoft’s machine translation team, the team set out to prove that its systems could perform about as well as a person when it used a language pair — like Chinese to English — for which there is a lot of data.

“Given the best-case situation as far as data and availability of resources goes, we wanted to find out if we could actually match the performance of a professional human translator,” said Menezes.

To ensure the results were both accurate and at par with what people would have done, the team hired external bilingual human evaluators who compared Microsoft’s results to two independently produced human reference translations.

“Hitting human parity in a machine translation task is a dream that all of us have had. We just did not realise we would be able to hit it so soon,” said Xuedong Huang, Technical Fellow in charge of Microsoft’s speech, natural language and machine translation efforts.

Also Read: Microsoft Teams to have Cortana integration, other features

To reach the human parity milestone on this dataset, three research teams in Microsoft’s Beijing and Redmond, Washington, research labs worked together to make the system more accurate.

“Much of our research is really inspired by how we humans do things,” said Tie-Yan Liu, Principal Research Manager with Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing.

The team used dual-learning method. Every time they sent a sentence through the system to be translated from Chinese to English, the research team also translated it back from English to Chinese.

Microsoft Kaizala
The accuracy rate is high too. Wikimedia

That’s similar to what people might do to make sure that their automated translations were accurate, and it allowed the system to refine and learn from its own mistakes. Dual learning, which was developed by the Microsoft research team, can also be used to improve results in other AI tasks.

Another method, called deliberation networks, is similar to how people edit and revise their own writing by going through it again and again. The researchers taught the system to repeat the process of translating the same sentence over and over, gradually refining and improving the response, Microsoft said. IANS