Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 22:
Organizations working for tribal education in Odisha, such as Sikshasandhan and Oxfam India, along with other partner organizations such as Chale Chalo, Adhaar and Lokadrusti, Marg, organized a learning conclave on Innovation in Education for tribal children at Pantha Niwas here on Saturday.
The deliberations at the conclave brought some worrying facts to the fore, the most important of them being the high rate of school drop-out among tribal chidren in the state. Studies reveal that 62.9% children from the tribal communities in Odisha leave school before completing grade eight in comparison to a national average of 48.8%. By class five, 50% of ST children are out of school and 80% leave by class ten.
The major reason for this high rate of drop-outs was identified as the lack of opportunties for tribal children to learn in their own language. Mnay of the 62 tribal groups, including 13 primitive tribal groups, in Odisha have their own languages, which are different from the recognized state and national languages. It takes at least three years for a tribal child entering class one to understand the language of the teachers and text books. As a result, only 20% of ST students make it to class ten levels, speakers at the conclave pointed out.
Experts and stake holders suggested ways to tide over the problem. Gunju Gomango, member, zilla parishad and social activist, expressed concern over appointment of Telugu speaking teachers in schools where children from Saura community study.
Eminent linguist,Dr. D. P Pattanayak advised experts working in the field of education of tribal children to collaborate with each other.
Over 200 participants from tribal dominated districts of Odisha participated in the programme, which was moderated by Anil Pradhan, Member-Secretary of Sikshasandhan and managed by Sagarika Ray, Atashi Rath and Gayatri Sahoo and Jitendra Rath from Oxfam India.