To the Advisor of Odisha Adivasi Manch, Badal Kumar Tah, while Mother
tongue-based bilingual programs during the early childhood use the child’s first
language, allowing the learner with adequate scope of understanding in their own
language ensures better convergence and participation in the classroom setting.
Later on, it becomes a platform for learners to gradually transfer skills from
the familiar language to the unfamiliar one.
The Odisha Adivashi Manch (OAM), a forum
of tribal groups urges upon the Government of Odisha to provide rightful
learning and childhood to tribal children of Odisha. It’s shoking that
in spite of a directive from the Chief Secretary of Odisha passed since
July 2012, it’s yet to be implemented by the officials proactively. The
directive needs to become a policy decision with a clear road map for
implementation. A gazette notification in this regard should be
immediately made and the decision be conveyed to all officials of the
state starting from line departments at state level to the Gram
While there is the need of developing
curriculum in at least 19 tribal languages, the government has notified
to take 10 tribal languages into consideration. This needs to be
modified and all these 19 languages should be included for now and there
must also be provision to include the remaining languages in future.
It is worth mentioning here that Odisha
has third largest concentration of tribal population in India. Of the 8
million tribal people living in the state, 1.4 million are children
between 0-6 years of age. Among this population, literacy rates are 37%
compared to 63% in the state and 65% in the country. Primary school
drop-out rate is also higher than the state average.
The UNESCO too celebrated February 21,
2013 as the International Mother Language Day in its headquarters at
Paris to reinforce the importance of Mother Language and specifically
highlight this year’s theme of access to books and digital media in