[MLE] Newspaper articvle "Local dialect can bridge the gap'

Dear MLE friends,
Ever now and then the press picks up on the value of the use of the mother tongue. Express published an article based on observations in Orissa. A copy of the article you find below this entry. This is the link:

Karsten (Thanks to Dr Mahendra Mishra for passing on the article)

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.
SIL, South Asia Group.

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‘Local dialect can bridge the gap’

First Published : 31 Mar 2009 03:58:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 31 Mar 2009 02:41:58 PM IST
DHENKANAL: The State Government has time and again being making tall claims to bring tribal children into the mainstream through proper implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). The ground reality here, however, is far from different. Dreams of bridging the gap and reducing social and economic inequality in tribal-dominated Kankadahada and SC/ST-dominated Hindol blocks and certain pockets in Parjang and Gondia blocks, have yet not been realised for a bevy of reasons.
In Dhenkanal district, the academic needs of tribal children are not properly addressed. The increasing communication gap between teachers and tribal children is said to be one of the major reasons for students’ lack of interest in studies.
Official sources said 228 schools function in Kankadahada block in Kamakshyanagar sub-division. Of them, while 169 schools are operating under the Department of Schools and Mass Education of the Government, nine schools come under the Department of Welfare. The combined strength of all these schools is 26,456 students.
In addition to this, about 7,000 students stay and study in 38 residential schools, ashrams and seva ashrams in eight blocks under the Welfare Department, most of these students are from tribal communities.
Despite surveys about various aspects of facilitating SSA having been conducted, the concerns and needs of tribal children are yet to be addressed. Many tribals feel that as the children are more acquainted and comfortable with the Santhali dialect education in that medium would be desirable.
‘‘Santhali is our mother tongue and we feel that education through our local dialect would bridge the communication gap. We do not oppose the present system of education, but teaching our wards in the language and dialect they are comfortable with would be more helpful,’’ said Dusa Murmu, a local.
Sources said after Class V, very few children pursue higher education. Besides this, teachers in these schools do know tribal languages like Munda, Santhali, Matia, Mankedia, Juang and Gadabparda. At present, NCLP funded schools are also facing the same problem in Hindol and other tribal-concentrated villages.
Kamakshyanagar district Inspector of Schools, Mayadhar Pany admitted to the plight of the tribal children in SSA schools. Other residential schools, in some cases, had experienced the same difficulties, he said.
Hindol district Inspector of Schools, Saroj Kumar Dora informed that there is no bilingual teacher posted in any school in Hindol education district. He also admitted that communication gap is a major hindrance in motivating children towards education. Even capable teachers find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand in tribal-dominated communities. Besides, in many schools, teaching and learning materials are not used to motivate students. Parents are not invited to schools to discuss the progress of their children in academics.
Educationist Ghanashyam Dash of Kamakshyanagar, who knows four tribal languages and used to impart training to teachers, said the government must include Dhenkanal district in multilingual category like KBK and five other districts in the state.
"It should also think of opening a tribal training centre here to educate teachers for successful implementation of primary education in tribal-dominated blocks," Dash said.
Susandhya Mohanty, a research scholar of training and education, suggested follow-up action and said concerns of tribals should be given top priority on a long-term basis.
Meanwhile, to tackle the communication gap, tribal leaders demanded posting of bilingual teachers or teachers adequately educated about tribal languages. Without these provisions, they said, the existing SSA structure would not help children in building their future.