In Maharashtra, medical education will soon be imparted in Marathi. The Maharashtra Medical Education Department has decided to make textbooks for the first two years of undergraduate medical courses available in Marathi, a senior official said.
Officials said that at this stage, the plan is to provide optional reference textbooks, aiming for a smooth transition for Marathi-medium students. Decisions on whether Marathi can be used as medium of instruction in medical courses will be taken in due course.
Confirming the decision, Dr Ashwini Joshi, Secretary, Department of Medical Education, said, “The first phase of this plan will be to prepare Marathi textbooks for the first and second year of undergraduate medical courses. These will be optional reference textbooks, a facility for students from the vernacular (Marathi) background for better understanding of the texts. Experts in specific fields will work to make perfect translations of the textbooks from English to Marathi. The translators will be a combination of language experts and doctors because the content must be verified by doctors, especially focusing on the terminologies used.
According to the plan, these reference textbooks are expected to be ready when the next school year begins.
When asked if there will be an option for students to appear for exams in Marathi, Dr Joshi said, “Currently, the plan is to prepare reference textbooks in Marathi. Other decisions will be taken in the future.”
Maharashtra will be the fourth state in India to offer medical education in a regional language. In line with the New Education Policy (NEP) which has emphasized on making higher education available in regional languages, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have announced the start of medical education in Hindi. Whereas in Tamil Nadu, few medical education textbooks have been translated into Tamil to provide conceptual clarity and better understanding for students coming from Tamil medium schools.
The measure, however, has received mixed reactions. Dr Praveen Shingare, former director of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) in Maharashtra said, “It is important to analyze first whether this is necessary. Students who want to pursue medical education are already mentally prepared for a change of medium of instruction; from the preparation for the National Entrance Eligibility Test (NEET)”.
NEET is a unique national level entrance test for medical education.
Dr Shingare also pointed out that even if NEET is available in the vernacular, “candidates opting for it in Marathi are very less and there is no record of them opting for a medical seat, eventually.” He welcomed the move, but warned that it should not be implemented hastily.
Dr. Shingare also pointed out that with an all-India admissions quota of 15%, students from across the country are part of the medical course classrooms. “And so making Marathi a medium of instruction will be a hurdle for those coming from other states. Just as it would be for students from Maharashtra getting admission in medical colleges from other states,” he added.
The principal of a government-run medical college, requesting anonymity, said the move is “revolutionary but not directly for the higher education level”. “When schools offering medium education in Marathi are closed, there are hardly any candidates for medical education in Marathi. The provision of higher education in regional languages should be done in a phased manner,” he added the director.
A professor at a civic medical college in Mumbai said, “We need to analyze whether by doing this we are restricting our students.Reference textbooks to help students from Marathi medium schools is fine. But changing the medium of instruction will not be feasible or beneficial for the students.