New Indian Express 24/3 2010.
BHUBANESWAR: Ministry of Human Resource Development selected multi-lingual education (MLE) of Orissa as one of the innovative programmes from the entire country this year and has commissioned a mega study. Also as a frontrunner in MLE, Orissa has received many offers from neighbouring states to design and plan the curricula in their tribal- dominated pockets to strengthen primary education.Though the State had started MLE in tribal pockets involving 10 tribal languages in 2005, this year the Orissa Government opened 547 schools on a pilot basis and the adding up process will continue till 2012 with a gradual scaling up of schools on a cumulative basis.According to tribal education coordinator with Orissa Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) Mahendra Kumar Mishra, Orissa is the first State in India to adopt the MLE method in tribal areas.According to a study, it was found that 80 per cent teachers serving in tribal areas is non-tribal and are unable to understand the language of the children. They are neither good in English nor they could teach the children language education. Even the content is culturally not appropriate to the tribal pupils and their learning process is blocked and their future is damaged. This also leads to loss of cultural biodiversity.On the other hand, according to Census data, literacy rate among tribal populace in the State is 37.37 per cent. Of the literate, males constitute 51 per cent and females 23.47 per cent. This indicates a huge socioanthropogenic gap.Research findings also indicated that 12 tribal districts of Orissa have 80 per cent dropouts in the State. Reasons for dropouts include quality of education including noncontextual curriculum, large gap between school and home language, unsuitable teaching- learning process and lack of resource support mechanism.Mishra, who participated at a State-level children’s forum here yesterday, said these challenges in school system would virtually lead to human rights violations and obstruction of national literacy goal and bridging socio-cultural gaps.The MLE curriculum has included Saora, Juanga, Munda, Santali, Bonda, Koya, Kissan, Oram, Kuvi and Kui languages mainly in eight districts, he said adding out of them 100 Santali schools are in Mayurbhanj district alone.However, capacity building of the tribal education process must be geared up by constituting a State Steering Committee on MLE and opening of a Centre for Tribal and Minority Education and make them functional to address the issues of tribal and minority languages. Also regional resource centres at three DIETs of Baripada, Sambalpur and Jeypore must be considered, he added.