North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) is looking to step up translations of indigenous works from the region into other languages so as to spread the knowledge from the North East to other parts of the country and the world.
As part of the National Education Policy 2020, NEHU is also working on translating literature, courses of studies, books and study materials into Meghalaya’s local languages.
NEP 2020 states that wherever possible, the medium of instruction must be in the mother tongue or local languages. This should be done until at least Class 5 but preferably until Class 8.
Speaking on the idea of translating the study materials and books for students into the languages of Meghalaya, Prof PS Shukla, NEHU Vice-Chancellor, said “Studying in the native language results in higher attendance, motivation and increased confidence for speaking up among students and improved parental involvement and support in studies due to familiarity with the mother tongue.”
He further added that “NEP 2020 clearly states that there is no imposition of any language. That is a great paradigm shift in language teaching. The other paradigm shift is mother tongue – primary and higher education should be through the mother tongue, along with three options which are regional language or local language or home language.”
Speaking about the knowledge of the people of Meghalaya, the VC, who has been in charge of NEHU for around 18 months, said that he has learnt so much, such as from the people of the War region who have built the world famous living root bridges, natural wells and dams to harvest rainwater, craftsmen and weavers who make intricate baskets, handicrafts and beautiful dresses from locally available materials to the farmers who cultivate with knowledge passed to them down through the generations and the traditional healers who heal and cure through traditional medicines using the medicinal plants available in the region.
This knowledge needs to be disseminated to the rest of the country and the world, Shukla said and this can be achieved only when their work is recorded.
Language should not be a barrier in acquiring knowledge, the VC added. With hundreds of variations of languages spoken in Meghalaya, being taught in English in schools leads to many dropouts, he claimed.
Besides encouraging NEHU staff into more translation work, Shukla also invited retired academics, historians, scientists, social scientists, technologists and people from civil society to contribute towards the translation work.
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