The Odisha Advasi Manch (OAM), a tribal organisation demanded the State government to take strict measures for implementation of Odia as official language in the State and promote education of tribal children in tribal languages during pre-school and primary school days.

They made this demand during a meeting held in the city on Thursday to observe international mother tongue day. Social organisation PREM had also joined hands with OAM for this celebration.

Speaking to newsmen, president of OAM, Ido Mandal said Odisha was the first State in India to be formed on linguistic basis but Odi language had not yet received due importance in the State. According to him Odia had not yet become official language of the State in real sense. Due to it the common mass who were not adept in English were suffering. He therefore demanded the State government to initiate measures so that Odia could be used as official language in offices in the State which would benefit the downtrodden especially the tribals and dalits.

The OAM was also too concerned about the State of tribal languages in Odisha. As per the organisation there were 62 tribal sects live in the State. Each of them had their own language.

But around 32 of these tribal languages of Odisha were at the verge of extinction, said Mr. Mandal. It may be noted that last year Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) has decided to develop bilingual primers in 10 tribal dialects for children from Class I to Class III with an aim to ensure equity in educational opportunities for tribal children. These primers would cover all schools having cent per cent monolingual tribal students.

But OAM members feel to safeguard survival of tribal languages and for educational development of tribal children, pre-school and primary education with use of tribal languages had to be promoted.