Kerala

Where language is barrier to communication

Tribal children find themselves lost when they are initiated into the world of letters in Malayalam, which is an alien language to them. A still from Aggedu Nayaka ; (inset) Sindhu Sajan, director of the short film.— Photo: By Special Arrangement

Tribal children find themselves lost when they are initiated into the world of letters in Malayalam, which is an alien language to them. A still from Aggedu Nayaka ; (inset) Sindhu Sajan, director of the short film.— Photo: By Special Arrangement  

: It is perhaps the first major attempt to find out how the existing educational system has failed tribal children in Attappady.

Aggedu Nayaka , roughly translated as Mother’s Spoken Language from the tribal dialect, is a powerful short film that tells the outside world how non-inclusion of tribal language and its rich folklore in the teaching process has resulted in total social alienation of tribal youth. Produced by the Palakkad district panchayat with the active involvement of teachers and students of the Government Higher Secondary School at Agali, the film is directed by theatre activist and teacher Sindu Sajan, who spent more than 15 years in the region to study linguistic alienation faced by the Irula, Muduga, and Kuruba tribes. 

“It is a film version of my continuing search for a solution to the feeling of alienation among tribal children when they get initiated into the world of letters in Malayalam, which is an alien language to them. Different tribal ethnic groups in Attappady have their own dialect, and each child must get education in her/his own language. Unlike other children, they grow up in a world of their own, a world of the jungle, animals, birds, and rivers. They speak a dialect of their own, are brought up in a dissimilar culture,” said Ms. Sajan in an interaction with The Hindu .

The film revolves around an orphan tribal boy, Velli, who drops out of a local school after feeling a strong disconnect with the medium of instruction and a teacher who tries to bring him back to school. The teacher finds that language is the main barrier in reaching out to the tribal community. The film ends on a positive note with the teacher dedicating herself to learn the tribal language to reach out to her students and their families.

“When these children begin their education at the pre-primary stage at the anganwadis near their settlements, they find themselves lost. The language used for instruction and communication is frighteningly strange. The process flows on to the primary level too. The majority of these children drops out of school as they find it difficult to fully comprehend classroom teaching and the activities or read the language and understand textbooks,” says district panchayat president T.S. Kandamuthan.

Fousia Fathima cranked the camera for the film, which will be screened across the district and outside. Akshaya Balan, Plus Two student, and tribal women Nanji and Kaada have also played main roles.



Aggedu Nayaka shows how the education system has contributed to social alienation of tribal youth.



Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 11:00:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/where-language-is-barrier-to-communication/article7038321.ece

Next Story