Bhubaneswar, 01 Sept (Ananta Prasad): “Tribal children have a right to study in their mother tongue,” says Padma Shri Dilip Tirkey, Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha and former captain of Indian Hockey Team.
Citing his own experience, he says, “Language is a major barrier to learning, especially during the early childhood days of schooling. Tribal children who are not taught in their own dialect/mother tongue in the initial years find learning difficult. I faced several hindrances due to this.”
Tirkey made these comments while meeting a delegate of the Odisha Adivashi Mancha (OAM), a state level forum of tribals and members from the National Advocacy Council for Development of Indigenous people (NACDIP), a network of tribal leaders and organizations working on tribal rights in India) on August 31 in New Delhi.
The delegates met him to pursue changes in education system to facilitate tribal children methods. He whole heartedly supported the cause and stated that it would be a good step as it would empower tribal children to learn with dignity.
An eminent tribal leader from Tamil Nadu, Krishnan, who is also the National Convenor of NACDIP, stated, “We are happy that the issue is being widely accepted and people are able to understand the intricacy of a tribal child’s right to get early education in their mother tongue. This shall guarantee children a greater degree of social adjustment.”
“Research has shown that when children start their pre-schools in their MT their brain grow faster and their ability to learn multiple languages grow”, Krishnan added.
OAM has been at the forefront of for such an educational initiative in Odisha. Similar work is being carried out by the members of NACDIP at national level. In response to the draft policy on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) by Government of India, tribal networks are demanding the inclusion of a separate chapter and Plan of Action for tribal children in India and especially for an early childhood education in their mother tongue.