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How English is playing a spoilsport for students at engineering institutes like the IIT

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The Economic Times | By Prachi Verma, ET Bureau | Aug 05, 2016 |

NEW DELHI: English language as a medium of instruction seems to be the prime reason for students getting expelled in their first year at premier engineering institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, and about 1% of them have been expelled due to poor performance every year at leading IITs — Kanpur, Delhi, Guwahati, Kharagpur, Varanasi and Roorkee.  This year, close to 30 students have been expelled for four years at IIT Kanpur (out of 3,000 students), 12 at IIT Delhi (out of 850 students), six at IIT Kharagpur (out of over 1,000 students), five at IIT Guwahati (out of over 600 students), in addition to the recent 10 expelled at IIT Roorkee (over 900 students) over non-performance issues.

“Many students who are non-performers face trouble as most of their school education had been in Hindi medium. From class lectures to books at IITs, all are in English, and hence there’s a gap in understanding,” said IIT Kanpur, dean-academic affairs, Neeraj Misra. IIT Kanpur identified this problem a few years ago and has put in place an English diagnostic test.  The fate of the 10 students expelled by IIT Roorkee this year may not see a reversal like last year when 70-odd expelled students got a second chance. The institute’s version is that this time they did their best to help these students.  “We have done everything possible. From giving them remedial classes, peer-assistant learning (PAL), mentoring by senior students, handholding sessions by faculty and even translations of lessons (from English to Hindi),” IIT Roorkee director Pradipta Banerji told ET.

He confirmed that unlike last year, this time expulsions will not be revoked. “We have done everything we could across the board,” he said. The 10 IIT Roorkee students scored a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of less than 5 in their first year exams despite all the efforts of IIT Roorkee.  In fact, 10 students being expelled is the lowest ever in the history of IIT Roorkee. The institute has always had a batch of around 1,000 undergraduate students in first year. “This is primarily because we took all measures from the very beginning this time so that the number of non-performers is the lowest ever,” he said.  Expulsion of non-performing students is not only limited to IIT Roorkee, as every year IIT Delhi also shows the door to about the same number of students (between 10 and 20). The academically weak students at IIT Delhi are given an extra (first) year to make up for the grades.  “Only if they fail to turn the tables, we expel these under performers,” said a dean at IIT Delhi, who didn’t want to be identified. “Most of them come from Hindi medium schools and face a problem in understanding the lectures,” said the IIT Delhi dean. Apart from the language issue, the inability to apply knowledge to concepts is another reason why students fail.  IIT Guwahati, dean of academic affairs, M Guru Prem Prasad, said, “Apart from the language problem, the students fail to solve concept-oriented papers. They can tackle only the objective type of questions. This is also the reason for many failures.” IIT Guwahati and Kanpur expel students only after a completion of six years unlike most other IITs that give two years to students to pull up their socks.- Courtesy


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