A concerning report has recently come to the foreground regarding the Tribal Education objectives set forth by the state of Odisha. It has been observed in the report that the government has not been able to fulfil its educational drives and objectives in its tribal belts. In some cases, the state has turned out to be an utmost failure with catastrophic implications looming large on the society.
“The literacy rate among the tribals of Odisha is no more than 37% against the national average tribal literacy rate of 63%,” confessed an official when questioned upon the figures. The figures are poor and condemnable in all respects considering the efforts and funds pumped into various schemes for tribal education in the state.
Furthermore, the dropout rate among the tribals in class V is almost 50% which is much higher than the national average for tribals. More astonishingly, only 2-4% of the tribal population opts to pursue higher or technical education. The experts are of the opinion that this pathetic state of education among the tribals can be resolved with added mother-tongue oriented education during their childhood and the implementation of more inclusive educational policies.
To add to the shame even further, it has been also found out that more than 1.4 million tribal children in Odisha are devoid of any access to pre-school education whereas most of them quit school within the 2nd and 3rd standards.
Allegedly, it is claimed that more than 90% of the funds meant for the upliftment of the tribal education and its various schemes, go down the drain or are siphoned off by the higher authorities only to trickle down small favours to the tribals.
Educationist Ajit Mohanty says, “The children of the Konds of the far-flung Kandhamal district have shown higher rates of development and intelligence owing to their mother-tongue oriented education system based on the ‘Kui’ language which they speak. It is very important for the tribal children to gain quality education primarily in their mother tongue.”
It may be reminisced that in July 2012 a meeting presided over by the former chief secretary had decided in favour of the introduction of mother-tongue based early childhood education based on a multi-lingual platform. This was prefixed to be implemented in around 1000 primary and upper primary tribal schools in the state of Odisha.
To facilitate the process even further, educated tribals need to be appointed as Anganwadi workers while intrinsic development of the infrastructure is the most urgent need of the hour. Moreover, culture oriented curriculum is also required to enable the children learn about their ethical and traditional values from a tender age.
Most importantly, the budgetary allocations for the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programme needs to be hiked which currently stands at a mere 3.14% of the state budget. The school and mass education minister of Odisha Rabi Narayan Nanda has said, “The state will introduce primary education in 19 tribal languages at the earliest. We are hopeful that this will encourage the tribal children to go to school.”