Primers in 52 non-scheduled and indigenous languages announced in India

Producing materials in unofficial local languages can be quite challenging for a government. It is therefore worth noting that recently the education minister of India announced the release of 52 primers in non-scheduled languages. These primers can all be viewed online. We all know that producing materials is one thing, getting them distributed and used in the classrooms is another. But it is good that concrete steps are taken towards the need for encouraging the use of local languages in the classrooms, particularly in the early grades.

Recently, the Union Education Minister of India, Dharmendra Pradhan launched and announced 52 textbooks/primers  in non-scheduled languages for early childhood care and education. The primers have been prepared by NCERT and Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysuru. 

By non-scheduled languages we mean languages that are not included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution and therefore include smaller languages . The  primers are meant to be a resource material to learn reading, writing and basic mathematical concepts.  

According to the Education Minister of India as  quoted by  The Economic Times, this venture will allow children an opportunity to begin their education in a familiar home language or mother tongue:

"The 52 primers in Indian non-scheduled languages is going to be a transformational step for young learners, specially for early childhood care and education, providing them access to education in their mother tongue/local language. It will initiate an inspirational journey for young minds, paving the way for deeper understanding, lifelong learning, more familiarity and rooted beds in indigenous culture and greater success in academics and beyond,"

This all sounds great, but for efforts like this, it can be helpful for civil society  organisations to ask some critical questions:

  • Community Involvement: To what extent were the communities involved in the development of the materials?

  • Translation Approach: Were the languages and cultures similar enough to justify a translation approach with the same illustrations, rather than a unique approach per language?

  • Orthography: Was the orthography of each language sufficiently developed and agreed upon before the primers were developed?

  • Cultural reflection: Do the primers sufficiently reflect the culture of the children or only the language?

The primers have been launched as an initiative under the NEP 2020 (National Education Policy) guidelines which encourage  government efforts to promote the use of the mother tongue in education. It is yet to be seen how these primers will be received and implemented at the ground level: Will it positively impact the educational journey of young children in India who are speakers of these non-scheduled and indigenous languages? We hope so!


Karsten, in collaboration with Upasana Lepcha



  2. Education ministry launches 52 textbooks in non-scheduled Indian languages | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

  3. Pradhan launches 52 short textbooks in Indian non-scheduled languages for early childhood education - The Economic Times 

  4. Guidelines for Development of Primer

  5. Federalism  

  6. Indian Language Primers 

  7. Photo: generated using Copilot AI