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Education among Indigenous peoples:

Addressing issues of Content, Access and

NIAS, Bangalore
September ,28-29, 2010
Tribal Languages , Text books and New Pedagogies :
Experience from Tribal Education in Orissa

Dr . Mahendra K Mishra
Five Principles on Tribal
• 1.People should develop along the lines of their own genius
and we should avoid imposing anything on them. We should
try to encourage in every way their own traditional arts and

• 2.Tribal rights in land and forests should be respected.

• 3.We should try to train and build up a team of their own

people to do the work of administration and development.
Some technical personnel from outside will, no doubt, be
needed, especially in the beginning. But we should avoid
introducing too many outsiders in to tribal territory.

• 4. We should not over- administer these areas
or overwhelm them with a multiplicity of
schemes. We should rather work through, and
not in rivalry to, their own social and cultural

• 5. We should judge results, not by statistics or

the amount of money spent, but by the
quality of human character that is evolved.

Orissa from tribal lens

• 23 % people in Orissa are tribal

• Out of 62 tribes 26 languages are surviving

• 90 % teachers in tribal area schools are

nontribal and from dominant culture

Dominant curriculum violating Nehru's principles

Position of Linguistic Minority Students
(Source: CTS’06)

• There are 19340 schools having 20+ students of

Linguistic Minority group

• Total no. of such students in these schools are


• Nearly 2/3rd of them(711607) belong to Santhali

(150680) & other Tribal lang. (560927)

• 10 Districts account for over 92% of these tribal

languages group children

Educational philosophy
• School as symbol of Swadeshi Colonialism-submerging
the regional /tribal identities

• Western bench mark curriculum has no understanding on

local knowledge/ tribal epistemology

Mainstreaming tribal children by denying children's rich

experience for an uniform utopia , historically led to a severe
failure-rejecting Indian diversities

Current practices in state (nontribal)
State curriculum and text books ignores tribal culture
and language.
Tribal children’s linguistic and cognitive abilities are

Tribes rarely featured in textbooks, or if placed, placed

as subjugated, strange, inferior and backward
Tribal children, also teachers face humiliation and
Teacher Education
Teacher Education follow uniform state
curriculum, and text books that represent
dominant culture and history.
No representation of ethnic and linguistic
minorities of India
Little discussion on marginalized- SC/ST ,
Gender ,linguistic minority , religious minorities
in training module ( out of 7 days 28 sessions for
teacher training , only one session for SC/ST
and Gender)
Community and school
• Community is not involved in intellectual work of

• Community consider teachers and schools as a

center for learning and they have nothing to
contribute since they don’t have access to
reading and writing.

• They don’t know what is school knowledge and feel

shy / hesitant while discussing it.

• High dropouts & low achievement

• Failure in achieving national goal

• Increase in social discrimination

• Blocking education and literacy

• Linguistic genocide and self hate

• Loss in diverse knowledge production

• Violation of children's linguistic and cultural right

Constitutional Obligations

• Art.46 – State to promote the Educational Need of

the Weaker sections of the society (SC & ST)

• Art.350-A – Adequate facilities for instruction in

mother tongue at the Primary stage of education to
children of Linguistic Minority groups

• Art.21-A – Free & Compulsory Elementary education

of equitable Quality for all children upto 14 yrs of age

UNFII 2007
• Article 13, Paragraph 1: Indigenous peoples
have the right to revitalize, use, develop and
transmit for future generations their histories,
languages, oral traditions, philosophies,
writing systems and literatures, and to
designate and retain their own names for
communities, places and persons.
• Article 14, Paragraph 1: Indigenous peoples
have the right to establish and control their
educational systems and institutions providing
education in their own languages, in a manner
appropriate to their cultural methods of
teaching and learning.
National Curriculum Framework
NCF 2005 envisages for language education and has mentioned that
1.Language teaching needs to be multilingual not only in terms of the number of
languages offered to children but also in terms of evolving strategies that would use the
multilingual classroom as a resource.

2. Home language/mother tongue of children should be the medium of learning in the


3. Second language acquisition through basic proficiency and development of language as

an instrument for abstract thought and knowledge acquisition through literacy.

4. The aim of English teaching is the creation of multilinguals that can enrich all our
languages; this has been an abiding national vision. English needs to finds its place
along with other Indian languages in different states...
5. Learning to Read and write
The authentic place of mother tongue in educational domain is not meant to be subtractive
but additive which fosters healthy multilingualism and ensures growth of all languages
NCF on Mother Tongue

• The mother tongue is a critical conduit, that social,

economic and ethnic backgrounds are important for
enabling children to construct their own knowledge.
Foreword, page 4)

• The fact that knowledge is constructed by the child

implies that curricula, syllabi, and textbooks should
enable the teacher in organizing classroom
experiences in consonance with the child’s nature
and environment, and thus providing opportunities
for all children. (Executive Summary, page 8)

Position Paper on Tribal Education-
 Curriculum as the mediator of dominance and
hegemony (Valeskar: 2005)
 Curriculum as the promoter of high culture and
not of the SC/STs
 Gendered nature of school curricular content
 Curriculum is urban elites male centric
 Devaluation of lesser languages, cultures,
traditions and folklore of dalits and adivasis and
 Colonial in character based on privileged
western modernization
5 Standards of new Pedagogy
• Designs instructional activities requiring student collaboration to
accomplish a joint project.

• Develop competence in the language of instruction across the


• Meaning making : connecting schools to students life

• Teaching complex thinking :challenge students towards cognitive


• students’ learning throughout the conversation by questioning,

resisting, praising, encouraging, and so forth

Orissa MLE Efforts
• MLE is to bridge the mother tongue with other tongues(MT+L2(
state lang) +L3 English

• A blend of bottom up and top down approach

• Political will( 55 Tribal MLAs)State TAC support

• Thematic Approach- ( cultural thems )

• Strong community involvement in curricular activities

• Tribal Teachers leadership for own community

• Ensure children’s meaningful learning

• State Tribal Advisory Committee approved
State Initiative
Multilingual Education to be introduced in Orissa in ten
languages in 2006-07 under the chairman ship of
Chief Minister ,Orissa

• MLE is implemented in class-I-IV in 547 pilot schools (


• Bridging from 100% tribal language in class-I to 100%

Oriya by class-V over a period of five years

Child in the center…
•Child see her world in her mother tongue
•Child learns best from her familiar world
• known to unknown
• Child learn better if the content is from
cultural context
•There should not be a gap between the home
language and school language
• Learning become responsive if the experience
is reflected in the teaching content and
• Curriculum/syllabus was adopted from NCERT

• Experience from other countries on MLE were gathered

and learnt

• Learning process of tribal society was discussed- cultural

themes are better known to the community

• From culture to contextual curriculum

Process of Curriculum construction

• Exploring tribal culture teachers selected seasonal themes

for a calendar year
• Theme web was selected for language and mathematics
• In the language theme web, other subject were integrated
• These theme webs were prepared based on the basic
principles of NCF-2005 w.r.t. the basic skill of learning of
Language, Mathematics , EVS, physical edn., health edn. &
moral edn are inculded as a cognitive system

Framework of MLE in Orissa class I -IV

Academic Year
30 weeks

Term-1 Term-II Term-III

Class I-IV: Class I- IV Class I – IV
10 weeks 10 weeks 10 weeks

Theme web:
There are 30 theme webs for 30 weeks

Two major theme webs for a week:

1. Language and EVs theme web which also covers
health/ physical education, moral education,
games and sports, songs and dance etc.

2.Mathematic theme web

Child Centered Learning in MLE

How ?
• Two Mega Strategies

1.Skills Based Development-

Confidence and competence through
practice with engagement

2. Meaning Based Contextualized Learning

emphasizing creativity and rooted in
learner’s background and culture

Two Track Strategies..
(Jim Cummins)
(Cognitive Academic Language (Basic Interpersonal communication
Proficiency Skill) skill)

Correctness and accuracy Meaning and

New knowledge to be
Experience of the child to
be explored

A Complete Annual Lesson Plan
• Teachers need not worry to write daily lesson
plan since he has already prepared the annual
plan before the school started

• There is a village curriculum and multiple

instructional materials to be used by the
children and the teachers

(Based on National Curriculum Framework- 2005)

1st Grade 2nd Grade 3rd Grade 4th Grade 5th Grade

Language in Language in Language in
LANGUAGE MT as subject MT as subject
MATHS Math in L2 (
Math Oral L1
Math in MT Math in MT Math in MT oral L1 and
and written L2
written L2)
CURRICULUM Environmental Environmental Environmental Environmental Environmental
CONTENT Studies Studies Studies Studies Studies


SECOND Reading and Reading and

Oral and
LANGUAGE writing in L2 writing in L2 Reading and
written in L2
Developing Developing writing in L2
( Oriya) ( Oriya)
fluency in L2 fluency in L2
Weekly plan for using the book ( class I)

Track I Track II
Alphabet Chart Big Book( 30)
Alphabet Book Small Book ( 60)
Number Chart Listening Story(30)
Number Book Experience Story
Math Book EVS( nature study)
Games and sports
Songs, tales, riddles, etc.

• New knowledge Community knowledge

Class II

• Picture book
• Yuktakshara Book
• Math Book
• Big books( 30+30)) in MT and L2 and small
books in MT and in Oriya ( 30 +30)
• EVS theme web and resource guide in Teacher
Training Handbook
• Theme web in classroom wall
Class III materials
• Language Book ( MT )
• Language Book ( Oriya )
• Language Book ( English)
• Math Book
• EVS texts
• 30 supplementary bilingual story book in
MT and L2

Class IV Materials
• MT as a subject
• MT as medium for Math / EVS
• Oriya as L2
• English as L3
• 30 Supplementary story book in MT and

Schools adopted in MLE
• Class IV 2007-08 : 154
• Class III 2008-09: 257
• Class II 2009-10 136
• Class I 2010-11 80( ?)
• Class V 2011-12 coming year
• Total 547 ( 80 to be adopted )
• Total tribal teachers : 650
• Tribal children 19785

Who Prepared this ?
• Community Resource Persons provided local
knowledge( checked the text )

• Teachers from ten tribal languages were trained

on new pedagogy

• Language and pedagogy experts believing in a

tribal pedagogy trained the teachers

• National and International experts provided

technical support to tribal teachers
Community , culture and curriculum
Each language group framed their curriculum based on their
culture and represented their own knowledge , values and

They researched on each cultural theme from the community

practice ( earth, water, forest , farming, festivals, etc)

Deep experiential knowledge of the community from past to

present was discussed and captured

Both past and present was captured in the text to make it

realistic and to avoid romanticism

Understanding Tribal Pedagogy
• Cultural methods of teaching and learning

• Intergenerational knowledge through practice

• Learning with purpose and meaning and productivity

(Education of hand, heart and head)

• Informal learning and experiential learning

• Maintain cultural bio-diversity thru non- exploitative ethics

and spirituality

• Sustainability through being a part of nature and earth than

exploiting it
One Guiding Principle:
Ten Tribal Curriculum
• Each language group represented their own
cultural knowledge and values to prepare the text
books ( local math, local history, folklore)
• They looked their past and understood their present
to connect the heritage with current situation-
critical analysis of reality
• Many new knowledge were scripted after a lot of
exercise for last five years
• Each language group teachers became the first
curriculum designers, text book writers and teacher
trainers 37
From Culture to curriculum
Tribal Alternative Pedagogy
Tribal teachers reflected their epistemology and secrets of
knowledge that was amazingly not known, even to them since
they were from new generation

Tribal teachers learnt a lot from their elders while community

validated the curriculum

This revealed the hidden knowledge of tribal

A unknown realm of Indian knowledge was explored that is

based on Indian point of view ( mind is not separated from matter
and sacred is not separated from nature! )

Multicultural -SRUJAN
• A child centered programme in which community
resource persons took active part in story telling, art
and craft , nature study , cultural mathematics,
traditional games to bring community school

• 2000 CRCC took part in 16000 schools where 14

lakh children took part. About 3 lakh oral tales, 300
traditional games and thousands of art and craft
collected which enriched the schools with local
Community Mental Mathematics
One riddle
100 legs , 72 eyes
How many hen, how many elephants ?
But how it was organized in the mental text of the old
man who conceptualized this?

Another Riddle :
Wife and husband have twenty two ears
( who are they?)
(Ravana and Mandodari)

Tribal teachers as makers of their own
• 70 tribal resource teachers
• 650 tribal teachers
• Tribal teachers had hardly believe that they could
prepare curriculum, text books and training module
and become resource persons
• They could do it with confidence, zeal, dedication
and commitment
• They became the first writer of their own history ,
culture and education
• Community got recognition from the state
• Curriculum in 547 schools and used tribal curriculum
, text books and adopted culturally responsive
teaching learning methods which is familiar to the

• Children broke the culture of silence and gained


• Their performance and achievement in their own

language is strong and they are good in transit to Oriya
language in comparison to the non MLE schools

We understand that
• MLE is not a change in the system, but it is a
transformation of existing human resource- meant
for both dominant and subjugated for a newer

• It recognize the culture of marginalised so it is down

to the earth, closer to the children and their parents

• It is not to replace the mother tongue or dominant

language but to connect the mother tongue with
other languages.

And miles to go….

•Lim tam