In its bid to strengthen learning and improve the quality of education among tribal children, the State Government has decided to press in siksha sahayaks in its multilingual education (MLE) programme.
The State, which had started the MLE programme on a pilot basis in 545 schools in 10 languages across eight districts in 2006, is planning to expand the initiative. It also plans to gradually transfer the functionality of MLE programme to zilla parishads to give the elected bodies more say.
Although the programme had been implemented by transferring teachers with expertise in the tribal language to the MLE schools, absence of adequate number of teachers prompted the Government to engage siksha sahayaks for effective implementation of the programme.
In fact, the Government has already approved a policy on MLE which calls for continuation of the programme and its coverage to all tribal children. In Odisha, where tribals constitute 22.13 per cent of the population, the schedule caste (ST) communities speak as many as 72 mother tongues broadly grouped into 38 languages. But literacy rate among STs is low and poor educational performance is attributed to language barrier.
Since the dominance of Left wing extremists is strong in tribal pockets, the Government plans to intensify MLE as a measure that will combat the sense of alienation among tribals. In a latest resolution that seeks to address the issues, the School and Mass Education Department has directed that all functions of elementary education will be transferred in phases to zilla parishad and other panchayati raj institutions. Since MLE is part of the elementary education, it too would follow suit.
The Government will embark on a special recruitment drive to hire siksha sahayaks for the MLE programme. Engagement of these teachers will be made by respective zilla parishads as it is done for Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. Meanwhile, the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority has directed all Collectors and Zilla Parishad heads to get ready for recruitment of siksha sahayaks. There are 14,181 posts to be filled up in 20 districts which include 100 teachers for Telugu, 60 for Urdu and 50 for Bengali languages. The applications can be made online.