The decision has been taken after undertaking linguistic survey

The State government is all set to facilitate teaching in nine more tribal languages for benefit of tribal students at primary schools under its multilingual education (MLE) programme from this academic session (2012-13).

In coordination with Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Development Department, linguistic survey has been undertaken in 14 tribal languages, including Gadaba, Bhumija, Ho and Kolha, Gond, Banjari, Paraja and Bhumia, Kharia, Mirdha, Mahali, Bhunjia, Didayi, Bhuyan, and Bhinjali to assess the multi-lingual education intervention in these languages, according to School and Mass Education (SME) Department.

According to sources, out of the 14 languages surveyed, nine languages have been identified for inclusion in MLE programme in 2012-2013. “District-level surveys have been undertaken in the existing as well as new districts to identify the schools with monolingual situations in the existing 10 languages for upscaling the MLE programme.

Altogether 200 schools from 14 districts have been selected for initiation of MLE programme in 2012-13,” says a senior officer of SME Department.

Diverse groups

Odisha is home to the largest diverse groups of tribal communities in India having 62 ethnic groups.

It is to be noted that to address the issue of systemic marginalisation of tribal children from the educational process and to build the scientifically-proven foundation in mother tongue, the State government has been adopting the MLE programme since 2006.

At present, 10 languages such as Santhali, Munda, Koya, Kui, Kuvi, Kishan, Oram, Saura, Bonda, and Juang have been selected for adoption as a medium of instruction at the primary level in the first phase.

In a phased manner during 2007 to 2010, 544 schools with 100 per cent tribal children (monolingual) were adopted with MLE approach in eight districts. In the last academic session, as many as 33055 tribal students were enrolled.

As many as 100 schools in Mayurbhanj district have Santhali language as a medium of education at primary level. Similarly, classroom teaching is imparted in 60 schools in Saura language in Gajapati district. Other tribal languages include Kuvi in 65 schools of Rayagada, Kui in 60 schools of Kandhamal, Koya in 50 schools of Malkanagiri and Oraon in 37 schools in Sundargarh district.

Children of primitive Bonda community are being taught in their mother tongue in 10 schools in Malkanagiri district.

According to sources in the SME Department, strategy to facilitate transition from 100 per cent tribal language in Class I to 100 per cent Odia by Class VI over a five-year period will be developed. Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) has been entrusted with the responsibility of initiating and developing the programme.

A State Resource Group, comprising 60 persons (linguistics, educationists, tribal experts, tribal teachers and tribal language resource persons), has been formed for the development of orthography, literature, transition plan, instruction manual, and curriculum in select tribal languages. Selection of schools is based on child census.

Curriculum material and books in 10 tribal languages have been printed for Class I and II while the same, which has been developed and is being used in Class III, IV and V, are yet to be printed.