Published: 10th June 2021
Ministry of Education drops Odia from national edu-platform Swayam
Dr Omkar Nath Mohanty, trust member of Institute of Odia Studies and Research (IOSR), said the MoE move has deprived bulk of rural and economically weaker students
Despite its professed aim of eradicating the language barrier in virtual learning through the national online education platform Swayam, the Union Ministry of Education (MoE) has kept Odia out of its scheme of things.
Amid a surge in demand for online education materials following lockdown last year, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal had announced that courses in science, engineering and pharmacy at both UG and PG level offered on the Swayam platform will be translated into 10 major regional languages including Odia. The other languages were Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi.
However, when it came to preparing and translating the study materials this year, Odia and Punjabi were dropped by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Currently, the translation of courses is underway and completed for some subjects too.
AICTE sources said translating the courses into more than the selected eight languages does not seem feasible at the moment. Swayam, which was launched in 2017 by MoE, offers 1,900 courses from Class IX to post-graduation through massive open online course (MOOCs) format free of cost.
Courses offered in science, engineering and technology, humanities and social sciences, law and management, are prepared by faculty members of IITs, central universities and scientists of IISc.
Dr Omkar Nath Mohanty, the trust member of the Institute of Odia Studies and Research (IOSR), said the MoE move has deprived bulk of rural and economically weaker students in Odisha from receiving online courses in their mother-tongue for better grasp of the technical subjects.
"This is very surprising and patently unjustified, given the fact that Odisha boasts of a large number of technical universities, engineering colleges, an IIT and NIT. Besides, Odia is the first (and the only one so far) from the North Indian group of languages to have been accepted as a classical language by the Central government taking into account its long and rich heritage," Mohanty said.
Former diplomat Abasar Beuria echoed the feelings. When students from Odisha are allowed to appear for important examinations like UPSC, Railway, NEET and IIT entrance test in Odia language, there is no reason why Odia should be dropped from Swayam courses, he wondered.
"The course materials in Odia language could have helped lakhs of students from rural pockets of Odisha who do not have good understanding of English. We cannot deny the fact that online education is here to stay but under the current Swayam arrangement, many Odia students would be left out," he said.
Seeking intervention of the State machinery, both Mohanty and Beuria said the government should take up the issue with AICTE and MoE immediately to ensure that Odia students have access to the good quality resource materials under Swayam.