Saturday, October 1, 2011

[MLE] People's Linguistic Survey of India on the way

Dear MLE friends,

In the press we have read about the progress on the Ganesh Devy's People's Linguistic Survey of India. In a recent article in the GlobalPost titled "India: fight to preserve dying languages" the potential  educational impact of that survey was also mentioned:
"Though various studies have shown that children learn better when taught basic concepts in their mother tongue before attempting to master a second language, India prioritizes just 22 out of the 900-odd languages that Devy seeks to catalogue, and the state's promised free and compulsory education is most often available in fewer still.
“In the Constitution of India, there is a special schedule of languages, which alone receive official support,” said Devy. “When the schedule was created after independence, it had 14 languages. Now it has 22. All the funds for primary, secondary and higher education can go only to these languages.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps, tribal literacy rates lag behind those of the general population, and only about one-fifth of the so-called “Scheduled Tribes” noted by the Indian constitution as historically underprivileged are attending school, according to the latest census.
“If we don't include these languages in our education policy, obviously we are discriminating against them,” said Abbi. “We have a reservation policy [that mandates quotas in jobs and higher education] for the [historically underprivileged] Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. But the reservations are for the tribe, not the language. This is the reason why tribals want to forget their languages.”
Regarding the survey itself the articles states:
"To aid researchers, each language will be detailed with a 1,000-word history, a brief glossary and some examples of poems and stories. And based on preliminary findings, the official number of Indian languages will likely rise from the Raj-era figure of 179 — of which a paltry 22 are officially recognized by the constitution — to nearly 900."
The outcome of this survey will hopefully become a resource for educational planning. We are all looking forward to the first publications!

Regards,

Karsten

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.

SIL, South Asia Group

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--
Education Consultant; SIL Intl,
On study leave with reduced e-mail contact till November 23rd

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