‘Higher education in Indian languages aspirational’

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Rohan Joshi, first from the left (Image: Sapan Kapoor, NewsGram)

New Delhi: In a bid to propose improvements to the New Education Policy that the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) is currently developing to make India a knowledge superpower, seventh School Choice National Conference took place in the national capital on Saturday. NewsGram spoke to Rohan Joshi, the Head of the Research vertical of Centre for Civil Society, on the need to provide education to children in Indian languages.

We also asked him whether his organization would urge the government to work in this direction in the future. Joshi said they would not recommend the government to have higher education in mother tongues although it was “certainly aspirational.”

The School Choice is an initiative of Centre for Civil Society to advocate element of competition in education space through policy reform and create an environment where every child has the Right to Education of Choice.

Here’s the interview with Rohan Joshi.

Q: Studies show that children learn the best in their mother tongue. If a child in South Korea can become a doctor after studying in Korean, why cannot a boy in a Tamil Nadu hamlet become one after studying in Tamil? What are your views on this?

Ans: It’s not a factual statement to make that children are not learning in their mother tongues because apart from a few states we actually don’t have government English medium schools. So the children who attend the government schools essentially study in the vernacular medium that is in their mother tongue at primary level.

Q: That’s at the primary level. Why should not they get the chance to pursue higher studies in their mother tongues? Why can’t students learn science in their own languages?

Ans: The clear issue here is having that curriculum developed in mother tongues. We ought to remember that this also has a correlation with livelihoods of the people because what happens is that at the primary stage it is more about the acquisition of competency, skills and knowledge. However, as you go towards higher education it starts getting far more driven by livelihood like what do they earn out of it.

And unfortunately, or fortunately, the language of transaction and livelihood at the moment is English. And it is actually true about a lot more other countries, not just India, where we can see a clear shift towards English medium education. I am just not talking about developing countries here but also about developed countries. For instance, in Spain and Italy where knowledge is available in Spanish and Italian, the conspicuous shift is towards English medium education.

Q: But countries like China seem to be doing pretty well by learning in their own language.

Ans: If you look at overall data China is an outlier. China is not a standard example because a shift is happening towards English there as well. Is it good or bad? I would say if it is serving the purpose and as you move up the education ladder the parental expectation is that children should be equipped with necessary skills for the job roles they would be performing in the near future.

Q: New Education Policy aims to provide affordable, quality education to all the children of India, irrespective of their backgrounds. How can a costly English education achieve this purpose?

Ans: It is not that English education is costly. Higher education, in general, is expensive. So even if it is a vernacular medium education, there’s no guarantee that it is going to be cheap.

Q: Should we make a shift towards learning in our mother tongues instead of a foreign language like English?

Ans: No, I do not think English is a foreign language anymore in India because we have pretty much internalized it. It is not this or that. You can actually teach both, English and mother tongue. Human beings are multilingual creatures and are capable of learning many languages. Is higher education in mother tongue good? Is it aspirational? It is certainly aspirational. I am not saying children should not have education in the mother tongue; they must have an option. At the same time making it compulsory is not the way because then you try to force it upon parents who do not seem to be willing for this at the moment.

Q: Would you recommend the government to chalk out a plan to have education in Indian languages?

Ans: For higher education ‘no’ and for school education definitely ‘yes’. As for higher education, it is not because we do not want to, but because that is not a concern for us. It’s an aspiration. We understand that people want their language to advance. The issue is we put too much burden on education to serve all the purposes. For instance, if people wish to show love for their language, it can also happen outside schools. Isn’t it?

We would like the New Education Policy to focus on the quality of education among other things. That is the need of the hour.

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Moon Mission: NASA Seeking Healthy US Citizens For 8-Month Isolation

NASA is looking for candidates between the ages of 30 and 55

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NASA is looking for healthy individuals for their study on isolation for 8 months. Pixabay

NASA is seeking US citizens for an eight-month study on social isolation in preparation for missions to Mars and the moon.

The international space agency is preparing for its next spaceflight simulation study and is seeking healthy participants to live together with a small crew in isolation for eight months in Moscow, Russia.

Participants will be staying in a lab located in Moscow, and they will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars that will have crew members from different nations.

NASA is looking for highly motivated and healthy individuals between the ages of 30 and 55 who are fluent in both English and Russian. They must also have an MS., PhD, MD. or have completed military officer training.

The space agency will consider other participants with a bachelor’s degree and other qualifications such as military or professional experience.

They will study the psychological and physiological effects astronauts are likely to face as a result of isolation on long missions.

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NASA is also looking for people who are fluent in both English and Russian. Pixabay

According to NASA, participants will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars.

A small international crew will live together in isolation for eight months conducting scientific research, using virtual reality and performing robotic operations among a number of other tasks during the lunar mission.

The research is being done to study the effects of isolation and confinement as participants work to complete simulated space missions.

Also Read: Back to the Soil With Organic Farming

Results from ground-based missions like this help NASA prepare for the real-life challenges of space exploration and provide important scientific data to solve some of these problems and to develop countermeasures.

Participants will be compensated, and there are varying levels of pay depending on whether you’re associated with NASA.

This study builds on a four-month study conducted in 2019. The SIRIUS-19 analog mission had six participants — two US citizens and four Russians — isolated in a metal habitat that acted as their spacecraft, lunar lander and home. (IANS)

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Lockdown: People With Higher Education, Income Spending More Time on Hobbies

55.7 % people with higher education are spending time on their hobbies

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50 per cent of people with higher education and income have started spending more time on hobbies. Pixabay

About 50 per cent of people with higher education and income have started spending more time on hobbies including Fashion Trends amid the Covid-19 induced lockdown, according to the latest IANS-CVoter Economy Battery survey.

The nationwide survey indicated that about 55.7 per cent of people with higher education and about 49.6 per cent of those from the higher income group have been spending more time on hobbies during the lockdown.

Also, in terms of gender, 35 per cent male have started spending more time on hobbies, while 38.5 per cent female have started doing the same. However, 50 per cent of female respondents and 49.5 per cent of male respondents have opted for ‘no’ in the survey.

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38.5 per cent female have started spending time on their hobbies. Pixabay

In terms of age group, 42 per cent of people below the age of 25 years have started spending more time on hobbies during the lockdown, while 39 per cent of those between the age of 25 and 45 years have been doing the same since the lockdown was imposed.

As many as 32 per cent of those between 45 and 60 years of age have been indulging their time in pursuing their hobbies, while only 26.8 per cent of those above 60 years of age have been doing the same.

Read More: Private Companies Now Allowed to Take Part in Planetary Exploration: Finance Minister

In terms of educational qualification, 30 per cent of those having lower education have started spending more time on hobbies, while about 45 per cent of those in the middle education group have started doing the same.

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About 32 per cent of those from the lower income groups have been spending more time on hobbies. Pixabay

A similar pattern was visible in the income category. About 32 per cent of those from the lower income groups have been spending more time on hobbies, while about 39 per cent of those from the middle income groups have been doing the same.

The 21-day nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25. While it was to end on April 14, it was extended till May 3 and later to May 17. However, certain relaxations were given after May 4. (IANS)

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Pearson India Launches ‘MyPedia’ skill on Amazon Alexa for English Learners

You can now learn English with MyPedia on Amazon Alexa

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MyPedia ia an interactive skill launched on Amazon Alexa to help people learn english language. Pixabay

Digital learning company Pearson India on Tuesday introduced an interactive skill called MyPedia on Amazon Alexa for students and learners of all age groups to learn English.

The Pearson MyPedia skill offers a collection of engaging stories coupled with fun facts, trivia, quizzes and rewards.

“We have worked with Amazon Alexa team to build Pearson MyPedia skill that will help learners improve their English language abilities through storytelling. The skill can supplement reading and writing of the English language in a new, e?ective and fun way,” Ramesh Subbarao, Vice President Portfolio, South Asia, Pearson, said in a statement.

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The new skill can be accessed on all Amazon Echo smart speakers. Wikimedia Commons

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The interactive format of the skill can help improve English vocabulary, listening, speaking, comprehension, and storytelling. To get started say “Alexa, open MyPedia”, or simply “Alexa, I want to learn English”.

It is designed to enhance the interest of students in the English language. The stories used in the skill can inspire them to be authors and be imaginative while writing in English.

The new skill can be accessed on all Amazon Echo smart speakers, Echo Show smart displays, as well as the Alexa app for smartphones. (IANS)