The Odisha Government is all set to roll out mother tongue-based pre-school curriculum in anganwadi centres across 12 tribal districts by July.
In the form of ‘Nua Arunima,’ the pre-school curriculum books will be available in 10 tribal dialects in two phases. The Woman and Child Development (WCD) department had assigned Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) to prepare the textbooks.
‘Nua Arunima’ is part of the mother-tongue-based multi-lingual education (MLE) of the State Government. Since children in tribal districts find it difficult to make the transition from their mother tongue to Odia, which is the medium of instruction in schools, the Government had earlier decided to use mother tongue of children as the medium for five years of primary education.
So far, the WCD department, with support from OPEPA, has already completed the final edition of ‘Nua Arunima’ books in Juang, Kisan, Koya, Ui, Munda and Oram dialects. These books would be made available at the anagnawadi centres (AWCs) by July end.
The books in four other tribal dialects such as Bonda, Kuvi, Santhali and Saura are expected to be supplied to the AWCs during September.
In its bid to prepare the ‘Nua Arunima’ books, the WCD department had engaged its Child Development Project Officers, anganwadi centres and MLE teachers as master trainers who in turn trained the teachers of various AWCs and primary schools.
Since Odisha is home to one of the most diverse groups of tribal communities – having 62 ethnic groups – the Government has been trying to create an identity for tribal dialects so that they hold their own among the dominant languages.
As part of the endeavours, Odia is kept as second language from Class II whereas English is introduced in the MLE programme at Class III. This, officials say, will allow students to maintain an academic balance and keep them on track when they progress to higher classes so far as performance is concerned.
The WCD department has already asked districts to send in the details of enrolment in AWCs as well as in primary schools so that the textbooks can be printed.