Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that students in villages and those belonging to poor families must not be deprived of opportunities because of their limited linguistic knowledge. He emphasised on the need to break language barriers by promoting education in local languages.

“There is no dearth of talent in this country,” Modi said during a webinar on Budget provisions for the education sector. “There are students who don’t know any other language apart from their own. We cannot let their talent die. They should not be excluded from the country’s development journey.”

The prime minister said that talent can be found everywhere, including in the homes of the poor, adding: “We have to break the barriers of language and give them opportunities to bloom.”

Educators should provide the best possible content to students in Indian languages, Modi said. The prime minister also added that the New Education Policy encourages learning in regional languages.

Modi said that achieving this goal will be entirely possible in the era of technology. He added that the National Language Translation Mission will play a significant role in ensuring that students get access to information in their languages.

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The prime minister said that young people need self-confidence to build a “self-reliant” India, and that their confidence was connected to their education and skills. “The new National Education Policy has been developed with this key thought,” Modi added.

Modi said his administration was trying to expand career opportunities for young people. “It is an injustice to the nation to keep knowledge and research in limits,” he said. “With this mindset, we’re opening up several sectors such as agriculture, space, atomic energy and DRDO [Defence Research and Development Organisation] for our youth that is full of potential.”

The prime minister added: “In this year’s budget, we’ve added more focus on institutional-making and access. For the first time in India, we’re developing a National Research Foundation, at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore.”

There was a need to map the skill set of young people in sync with the global demand, the prime minister said. “We’ve to work together to bring international campuses to India and adopt best practices across the globe in collaboration,” he added.

The New Education Policy

The National Education Policy, approved by the government on July 29, was an election promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014 and the first revision in 34 years. A panel headed by former Indian Space Research Organisation chief K Kasturirangan submitted a draft in December 2018, which was then made public and opened for feedback after the Lok Sabha election in May 2019.

The new highlights include a plan to allow foreign universities to open campuses in India and a single regulator for higher education institutions, except for law and medical colleges. It encourages the use of technology, the study of Sanskrit, and teaching in one’s mother tongue or regional languages up to Class 5.

Meanwhile, Class 10 and 12 board examinations will be made easier, to test core competencies rather than memorised facts and all students will be allowed to take the exam twice. The policy will also introduce four-year undergraduate degrees with multiple entry and exit options and abolish the M Phil degree.