The State Government has decided to use tribal dialects as teaching medium from class I to class III in schools that have only tribal students and also use tribal languages as medium of instruction in Anganwadi centres (AWC).
The Odisha Adivashi Mancha (OAM), a State- level forum of tribals and organisations working with tribals, has welcomed the decision. “We are happy that the State Government has accepted the long standing demand of the tribal population of the State. However, we urge the Government to follow this up with a detailed strategy to make this move effective,” Ido Mandal, State convenor of OAM has said in a release here.
Representatives of the OAM had recently met Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik to push for this demand. They are planning to meet the Chief Secretary again soon to discuss these issues.
Though a good beginning, it needs to be followed up by proper curriculum and skill development of the teachers. “There is a need to developing ample teaching and learning materials to effectively implement this directive. We welcome the fact that the Chief Secretary has directed the OPEPA to work in this regard,” said Bidulata Huika, Raygada District Coordinator of the OAM.
OAM has already developed and successfully used such study materials and curriculum in tribal areas. “We urge the government to take note of these initiatives to develop further materials,” she said.
“Tribal language education drive will be successful only when there are dedicated tribal language teachers. The government should employ such teachers immediately,” Kailash Chandra Jani, Ganjam District Coordinator of OAM, has said.
Under the new initiative, the Government has decided to prepare bilingual primers in 10 major tribal languages like Munda, Santhali, Kissan, Oraon, Kuvi, Saura, Koya, Bonda and Juanga. They are already under preparation.
About 544 primary schools in the State will implement this system. Those include 135 schools in Mayurbhanj district, 37 in Sambalpur district, 67 in Sundargarh, 95 in Rayagada, 60 in Malkangiri, 30 in Keonjhar, 60 in Kandhamal and 60 in Gajapati district.
The initiative will also extend to the Anganwadi centres of tribal-dominated areas in near future. Some 20,000 AWC and Mini-AWC are in tribal areas. The Chief Secretary has directed OPEPA to customize the study materials according to tribal culture and language. The stories, rhymes, dance performances, folk-lores of the tribe concerned will be reflected in this. The script will be Odia but the language will be the language of the concerned tribe.