The Odisha Adivasi Manch (OAM),a State level network pressing for a policy on “mother tongue based multi-lingual early childhood education for 1.4 million tribal children”, has urged the State Government to strengthen “Naba Arunima,” the initiative launched to develop bilingual primers in tribal dialects.
On July 31 last year, the then Chief Secretary Bijay Patnaik had directed OPEPA to prepare study materials in 10 tribal dialects including Munda, Santhali, Kissan, Oraon, Kuvi, Koya, Bonda, Juanga and Saura. The stories, rhymes and folklores had to be designed in sync with local culture and traditions so as to enable the child to adjust within an anganwadi centre and later facilitate the transit to primary school successfully.
The initiative was to be implemented in 20,000 anganwadis and 544 primary schools across the State. “A year has passed by and Naba-Arunima’s progress has been praiseworthy but there are gaps. The curriculum is yet to be culture relevant,” said Ido Mandal, State convenor of OAM.
According to Dharitri Patnaik, India Representative of Netherlands-based Bernard van Leer Foundation, proper curriculum and culture specific pedagogy has to be developed for early learning. Besides, more budgetary allocation for teaching and learning materials, trained teachers and infrastructure must be made.
“The government needs to speed up the process if it wants to make education a reality for every child, especially the indigenous children,” she said. The Foundation has been supporting the campaign on inclusion of home-based language as the first language of interaction in anganwadi centres for children from one to six years. Bidulata Huila of OAM said curriculum development was to be done in 19 tribal dialects but nothing concrete has been done till date.
Mandal said OAM will take up the matter with the State Government.