MLE Related Projects

Draft, work in progress, version April, 2012

This is an overview of mother tongue based MultiLingual Education (MLE) projects currently running in India. Mother-Tongue-Based MLE is here defined as schooling which begins in the mother tongue and transitions to additional languages with a particular focus on communities that speak a minority language. This list is not complete as there are multiple initiatives we are not aware of. Corrects and additions are welcomed (You can use the comment option below)!


Andhra Pradesh

Projects are run by SSA/RGM in 2300 schools in eight tribal languages: Adivasi Oriya, Banjara, Rajkoya (Gondi), Kolavar (Kolami), Konda, Koya, Kuvi and Sora (Savara). The curriculum has been developed up to Grade 5 (textbooks and other materials such as local stories). The methodology is based on the 2005 National Curriculum Framework (NCF) using an integrated theme-based approach in the early years with subject based textbooks. Themes are chosen from the local culture and environment. Specific lessons also focus on language and maths skills. The second language (Telugu) is introduced gradually starting in grade 2, orally at first, then written. The programme has been running since 2004. RGM (SSA) has suggested having a partnership with an NGO to ensure good implementation.


Projects are run by OPEPA in 540 schools in ten tribal languages: Saura, Juang, Munda, Santali, Bonda, Koya, Kishan, Oram, Munda, Saura, Kuwi, Kui. The curriculum is currently being drafted for Grade 5, but curriculum have been printed only up to grade 2. The methodology is based on the 2005 National Curriculum FrameworkNational Curriculum Framework (NCF) and has also taken ideas from the multi-strategy approach, using both holistic and linear teaching methods. The programmes have been running since 2006. The current Education Secretary is supportive but wants to ensure good implementation before further expansion is considered.


Under SSA some materials have been developed in Koya, Batri and Halbi. However, it is unclear if these materials are being used.


Asha Kiran Society, Orissa

The Asha Kiran Society runs MLE classes in 17 villages with more than 40 local teachers teaching over 180 children covering most Panchayats of Lamptaput block in Koraput in Orissa. The language used is Desiya which is the lingua franca of the area. MLE Centres are also functioning for Gadaba and Bondo-speaking communities on a smaller scale. The transition is into Oriya and English. The curriculum has been developed and is being tested from preschool to Grade 4. The classes are run outside of official school hours as the programme has been seeking to collaborate with the government school system up to the present. The methodology is based on the 2005 National Curriculum Framework (NCF) and has also taken ideas from the multi-strategy approach, using both holistic and linear teaching methods. Village education committees (VEC) are being set up and trained to look after matters regarding the overall functioning of the centres and the payment of the teachers. The programmes have been running since 2006.

ULLASH , Orissa

Ullash has a pre-school programme focussed on several Anganwadis (Soura, Kui, Munda) in a tribal area of Orissa. The programme has been running since December 2010 through an NGO. There are experts from various field involved in the programme to developing a curriculum for Early Childhood Education (ECE) with contextual local specific materials. The programme is aiming to strengthening community monitoring system and for a legal provision for Mother Tongue based quality ECE provision for young children.

Mitra education program, Orissa

The NGO Mitra works in Orissa among the Kuvi tribe. From the early 1980’s, Mitra worked on Adult Literacy and Non-Formal Education, mostly in the Kuvi language and using the Oriya script. In 1998, in partnership with the Malkondh Anchalika Sangho – an association of 16 villages, an Adivasi, Residential Primary School was started in a village called Kachapaju. The school has classes from Grade 1-5 with 31 children per class. The school is to a certain extent owned by the community and the 31 seats are shared between the 16 villages based on the number of households in each village. All the teachers are from the community and education begins in the Kuvi language with a gradual introduction of Oriya. English and spoken Hindi are brought in at different points. Kuvi cultural activities are very much part of the curriculum. However all books used are in Oriya language.
The school functions as a hub for Mitra’s Adding Quality To Education program, wherein Education Committees in 21 villages are helped to host volunteer teacher assistants from the community to work in their government primary schools to assist the government teachers. The teacher-assistants are trained at the Mitra Residential School, Kachpaju and monitored by the NGO. They are encouraged to teach in Kuvi language and “celebrate the culture”.

The Good Samaritan, Chhattisgarh

The Good Samaritan is an NGO running three primary schools in the Bastar district in Chhattisgarh. The local languages used are Koya and Halbi. The transitioning is into English and, at a later stage, Hindi. Throughout the school, a simplified Devanagari script is used called Barati. The programme has been running since 2006.

Adharshilla Learning Centre. Madhya Pradesh

The Adharshilla Learning Centre has a school at Sendhwa Tahsil Badwani District and at one at Burhanpur Dist , Madhya Pradesh. They teach in the Bareli language. The following curriculum materials have been developed: easy reading materials, stories, a primer for the first standard, teaching aids, an alphabet song and many projects, etc. The schools follows their own curriculum up to grade 4 and, from the 5th standard onwards, they use government books from the state syllabus in Hindi. The Bareli language is used throughout the system and is not limited to any particular class level. The Sendhwa school has been running for several years while the Buranpur school started in 2011.

Pallikoodam High school, Kerela

Pallikoodam is a high school in the Kalathilpady area of Kottayam in Kerala. It was established 1967 by educator and women's rights activist, Mary Roy. The school teaches English after 4th standard. It helps students to think and speak in mother tongue Malayalam at the tender age which helps them love their own language. Mary Roy is Arundhati Roy's Mother and in 2011 Pallikoodam is selected as the best ICSE School in Kerala

Adivasi Sahitya Sabha in collaboration with PAJHRA, Assam

Three schools are running, 2 in Lakhimpur District and 1 in Sonitpur District of Assam. Over 90 children are enrolled and there are 8 local teachers in all. Teachers have helped with materials production for Kindergarten level. The medium of instruction is Adivasia . The curriculum materials thus far developed include a primer, an alphabet book, a teacher’s guide for the pre-reading programme and a variety of booklets, songs and rhymes for the story-track component. All the schools have a school managing committee consisting of members of the villages).

Amri Karbi Literature Society, Assam

The society has 8 schools that use Amri Karbi as the medium of instruction. Each school has appointed 2 teachers by the local people and at present total students number is 262. School has SMC (school management committee) to help teachers. In each school one teacher has appointed as a secretary in the SMC committee. There are 2 supervisors to guide all the teachers.
At present in some places teachers are teaching in the morning and some are teaching in the evening. The teaching places are community hall, club and in Govt. school, especially morning before they start and after they left the school. School teaching hr. is 2 hrs. only. After (or before ) the school children go to the Assamese school. In 2011 also a teacher’s association body was formed.
The school materials are limited. An Alphabet book (SRC 2006) story book and word building text book for children and teachers guide book, published in 2011 by SIL.

Rabha Literacy Mission Meghalaya/Assam

There are 4 pilot classes running under the Rabha MTB-MLE program. The stakeholders of the program are –RLM, LRLDA, BRKR, ARSU of the community. The locations are in Kankarpara and Photamati of East Garohills, meghalaya. Gojapara, Goalpara, Assam and Gojapara, Goalpara, Assam. The matreials used are primer, teacher’s guide, story book in both small and big forms and cultural calendar.

Bodo, Nijwm Community Development Society (NCDS) Pilot Project. Assam

The first Bodo medium school was started in 1971 However recently things have not gone well. There have been instances of closure of schools (Guwahati, Tezpur) due to lack of students in those schools because the parents have diverted their children to other medium schools (English, Assamese). Here came the necessity of introduction of MTB-MLE for the Bodos in the already established and privately run Bodo medium schools.
In 2010 pilot classes strated in 1) Chiknajhar Bathou Ashram Phoraisali, Bishmuri (Kokrajhar district) and U.N. Academy, Kalaigaon (Udalguri district). Altogether 310 children are enrolled. MLE method has been introduced only in the lower classes up to class 3.
So far EVS material production workshops have been organized thrice. The manuscripts are being edited and will be published soon. Other materials available are: Big Books, Cultural Calendar, Alphabet Charts. The schools have to depend on Govt. textbooks which are available and used from Class 1 onwards.


  • the Singpho Multi Lingual Education Committee have been operating a school in mother tongue since 2009 in Tinsukia Dt. of Assam. They have 20 – 25 children enrolled in the agegroup of 4-7 year. There are three teachers.
  • The government schools in Assam use the following languages as medium of instruction: Assamese, Boro, Bengali, Garo, Nepali, Manipuri, Hmar, Hindi, English, Karbi. There is sumplemntary material in the following languages: Thai, Birmese, Rabha, Devri, Mising.
  • Nagaland has English as the official language but also teaches 17 mother tongues from class 1 onwards.
  • NLCI runs a pre-school in the Rathwi Bareli language in Madhya Pradesh. It has been running since February 2010. Lower kindergarten materials have been developed and more curriculum materials are in the making.

Research/Evaluation Projects

  • JNU Orissa research project.
  • NCERT Evaluation on Orissa MLE SSA project
  • SSA evaluation on AP SSA/RGM project

Compiled by Karsten van Riezen, SIL Intl. & Pamela Mackenzie., INfD & Luke Horo

1 comment:

  1. Sikshasandhan is working with government schools in Odisha and promoting mother tongue based multi-lingual education in Mayurbhanj and Rayagada districts of Odiasha. For details please visit our website: