Whatever the over 61 per cent rate of literacy among the tribal people of Adilabad may indicate, good education continues to remain a mirage in the agency areas, evident from the abysmally low SSC pass percentage of 36.8 registered by tribal schools this year.
People in tribal villages still use thumb impressions on applications and petitions despite 40 long years of focussed education imparted through the Integrated Tribal Development Agency at Utnoor.
“The clue perhaps lies in kind and type training of teachers who are employed in tribal schools,” opines Mesram Manohar, former Deputy District Education Officer in the Agency.
“Teachers in these institutions should be well acquainted with the psyche and dialect of the Adivasis, the Gonds, Kolams, Pardhans and Thotties, to make learning more effective,” he adds.
Tribal education actually started way back in 1943 when the legendary Anthropologis Christopher von Furer-Haimendorf established the first teacher training school for tribals at Marlavai in Jainoor mandal. It began with five semi literate trainees who were given stipend during training imparted in Gondi through Devanagari script.
Hyderabad-based social anthropologist Urmila Pingle, who had worked with Professor Haimendorf, traces the efforts made by the latter to put in place a suitable education system for Adivasis in her paper -- C. von. Furer-Haimendorf: Half a century of his imprint on Tribal Welfare in Andhra Pradesh.
She says 30 primary schools started functioning by 1946 and the number grew by three times in another three years, thanks to the teachers being churned out by the Marlavai teacher training centre.
“By 1951, this centre produced 95 teachers, five village officers, one Revenue Inspector, five clerks and seven forest guards, besides a president of Panchayat Samiti under Utnoor Tribal Development Block,” Ms. Pingle notes. This was the time when the Adivasi population was only about 1.5 lakh.
Of the total tribal population of about 5 lakh, as per 2011 census, nearly 3.5 lakh are hill tribes and the number of Gond teachers at present is nearly 575 and that of Pardhans is 270, Kolams 35, and Thotties 23. Most of these teachers however were recruited in 1987 on the orders of former Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao following the Allampalli ambush in tribal area.
Another notable fact about tribal development envisaged by the anthropologist in his capacity as Adviser to the Nizam of Hyderabad on Tribal and Backward Classes, is his insistence on training of officers in anthropology. Such officers who eventually joined the civil services were known to be empathetic to the cause of tribals.
The clue perhaps lies in the kind and type training of teachers who are employed in tribal schools
former Deputy District Education Officer.