“Due to lack of textbooks in Odia languages, students of state-run high schools are forced to continue plus two or higher secondary in English medium and face difficulties in comprehending. Even in the national level entrance tests like NEET and JEE-Mains they get questions in Odia but they answer in English as they studied HS in the foreign language. If HS textbooks were made available for them in Odia then the success rate of students in the entrance would have been much more,” said Subrat Prusty, a researcher in Odia language and member secretary of Institute of Odia Studies and Research.
Language experts called it ‘unfortunate’ that the Centre dropped Odia language from the Swayam portal that provides online study materials and courses for higher studies and blamed it on ‘bureaucratic bungling’ and ‘lack of political will’.
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The ministry of education had announced that study materials in ten Indian languages including Odia will be available on the Swayam portal in 10 languages, to ensure that language should not be a barrier for learning.
“It is very unfortunate that hundreds of Odia students are deprived of studying higher education in Odia due to sheer neglect and lack of concern by the state government. It has already been accepted that given an option around 42% students would go for studying technical education in their mother tongue while around one third teachers in engineering colleges speak in local language while demonstrating lessons,” Prusty added.
However, experts said there are several challenges in preparing textbooks in Odia for higher classes due to the lack of subject teachers and reviewers. “Earlier with so much effort science subject text books in plus two and degree level were prepared and published. But at that time technical courses were available in English only, so not many students showed interest to study in Odia and the text books did not get updated or republished,” said Ratnakar Panigrahy, a retired college teacher.
Retired professor in Physics Lambodar Prasad Singh, who has been promoting science by writing several books in Odia language said, “It won’t be easy to prepare text books of technical subjects in Odia language. Apart from the challenge of dearth of subject and language experts for the work, it may not help students in their workplace later if they study engineering or medicine in Odia.”