Model residential schools (MRS) have been set up across the country nearly two decades ago to ensure quality education for tribal students. Though the objective has been realised to a certain extent, authorities are yet to take any serious initiative to conserve tribal languages or art forms.
Now, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), U.K., in association with the University of Leeds and the University of Lincoln, has come up with a pilot project in model residential schools in Wayanad district to address the issue.
The project is being implemented in the five MRSs with the support of the Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council (KDISC), Kerala Social Security Mission(KSSM), Department of Education, and Scheduled Tribes Development Department.
In the initial phase, the project aims to integrate tribal cultural heritage and performing arts with the mainstream school curriculum and make schools an open and safe space for tribal students to express their identities and share cultural practices, says Sreenath Nair, senior lecturer, College of Arts, University of Lincoln.
“We are planning a curriculum intervention using theatre as a medium to bring teachers, students, experts in general and tribal education, and the tribal community together to celebrate the richness of tribal arts, culture, and heritage,” he said.
“Theatre will also serve as a supportive tool for education as the project also intends to form theatre groups in each school which will meet weekly. The formation of theatre groups will not only ensure integration of tribal knowledge into formal education but it will also help in personality development and boosting the confidence of tribal students,” P.E .Usha, project manager, said.
Although the project will be implemented only in Wayanad, it aims to develop an educational tool kit that can be applied to all 20 MRSs in the State. The project was launched at Eklavya Model Residential School at Pookode in the district on Monday with a music session for students by K.J. Baby, a writer and film director from Wayanad.