August 01, 2008

Study MBBS in Tamil from next year

From the next academic year, medical students will be given the option of choosing Tamil as the medium of instruction for their undergraduate programmes. The blueprint, jointly initiated by the vice-chancellors of four government universities, is pending approval from chief minister M Karunanidhi.

In the first phase, the option will be offered at three government medical colleges — Stanley Medical College, Chennai, Tanjore Medical College, Tanjore and Madurai Medical College, Madurai. The translation of the syllabus will be completed in the next three months by a team of doctors and specialists.

"But we made a decision not to change the medical terms. For instance, terms like cardiomyopathy will not be translated into Tamil. This way, the job of the translator becomes easy and the students also learn the English terms they can't shy away from," said Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University vice chancellor Dr Meer Mustafa Hussain.

Nevertheless, the University will only do the translations for the syllabus. The several hundred reference books and manuals will be in English. "It's difficult to translate all the books that students refer. It probably can be done in a phased manner," said one of the doctors involved in the translations.

The Directorate of Medical Education is yet to decide if it should provide the allotment to these courses by claiming for additional seats or with the existing seats. The directorate is sure that there will not be a different team of professors teaching. "The faculty should only talk in Tamil. Most of them do it anyway when a student from the Tamil medium requests them to do so," the official said.

Though the proposal has excited students and teachers of Tamil-medium schools, many professors have termed the proposal absurd. "When countries like China have started teaching in English just to keep pace with globalisation we are pushing our students behind if we don't make them learn English. I studied in Tamil medium myself but I could cope with English in my MBBS. And I think there is nothing wrong if a professor of medicine teaches a bit of English," said a head of department.

But some other professors feel that students can do better if they learn in the language they are comfortable with. "In a class of 100, a professor is not going to wait and see if everyone has understood the lesson. In most cases, Tamil-medium students are too shy even to get up and ask doubts. You can start them on English tuitions and keep medical lessons waiting. We have a very tight academic schedule. Teaching in Tamil is anyway only an option given to the students," another senior professor from the Tanjore Medical College said.

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