Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) will start offering engineering courses in mother tongue for the academic session 2021-22, the Ministry of Education said in a press statement Thursday. The decision, taken in a meeting chaired by Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, is in line with the new National Education Policy (NEP) that calls for education in one’s mother tongue as far as possible.

“A seminal decision was made to start technical education, especially engineering courses, imparting education in mother tongue (and this) will be opened from next academic year. A few IITs and NITs are being shortlisted for the same,” a senior ministry official said.

In the meeting, it was also decided that the National Testing Agency (NTA) will come out with the syllabus for competitive examinations after assessing the existing scenario of school education boards. “The University Grant Commission has also been directed to ensure all scholarships, fellowships are disbursed in time and to start a helpline for the same and address all grievances of the students immediately,” the official said.

Sources said while the IIT-BHU is ready to offer engineering course in Hindi, other IITs and NITs, located in various states, will be shortlisted to offer engineering programmes in the language of the respective region.

“For example, NIT Trichy can offer engineering courses in Tamil for those who want to study in this language,” a source said.

The decision is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which lays special emphasis on promoting Indian languages primarily through imparting of education in the mother tongue right from the primary-school level.  

At the meeting, it was also decided to revise the syllabus for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), Main, conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). For this, the NTA will first conduct an assessment of the “existing scenario” in various secondary school examination boards.

The decision to revise the syllabus for the JEE-Main was taken in view of the cut in the syllabus of classes 9-12 by CBSE and other boards because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the NTA will come up with a revised syllabus for the JEE-Main in view of the situations arising due to the pandemic, the IITs have not yet taken any decision to revise the syllabus of JEE-Advanced.

“The issue may be discussed with the IITs later,” an official source told.

The NTA conducts the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate medical and dental courses besides the JEE-Main and other competitive exams. “But, the testing agency cannot revise the syllabus for NEET. The National Medical Commission (NMC) will take a stand on this issue as the medical education comes under their domain,” the source added.

The education ministry, NTA, and other bodies, including the University Grants Commission (UGC) drew flak from the students and parents over the conduct of various examinations this year. To avoid any controversy, the ministry at the meeting decided to hold a wider discussion with the students, parents, and teachers on the conduct of the examinations next year. “A campaign would be launched to seek views from students, parents, and teachers on how and when to conduct the exams next year,” the ministry said in a statement.