Imparting education to tribals in their languages won’t be hard

Odisha working on multilingual education for two decades

Odisha working on multilingual education for two decades

At a time when the new National Education Policy lays emphasis on mother tongue based instructions up to Class 5, Odisha seems to be at an advantage position to make it happen for its diverse tribal communities in the State.

The State has been working on multilingual education (MLE) for more than past two decades.

Unique position

Odisha occupies a unique position in the tribal map of India for having most diverse tribal communities. The State is home to 62 different tribal communities including 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs).

These tribes speak 21 languages and 74 dialects. Of the 21 tribal languages, seven has their own scripts. There are total 3,500 tribal language teachers under the MLE programme in the State.

“Academy of Tribal Language and Culture in collaborate with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI) is probably the only institute in entire country which has prepared supplementary readers in 21 tribal languages for Class 1 to 3,” said A. B. Ota, SCSTRTI Director. Besides, the government has come up with lexicons in 21 tribal languages.

Tribal children are now able to read supplementary readers — printed stories or folklores written in Odia scripture, but in tribal languages. Supplementary readers are bilingual and pictorial books which are easy to comprehend.

Santhali medium schools

Santhali, a widely spoken tribal language in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts which has been included in Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, is medium of instructions in more than 500 schools primary schools.

Although it is easy to prescribe local language as medium of instructions up to Class 5, it is very difficult to implement it.

“Subject experts should be roped in to prepare text books advised for different classes in local languages,” said Dr. Ota.

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