Indigenous children in South Orissa fight for inclusive education

Already marginalized, COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on indigenous groups, especially children in Koraput; But civil society is trying its best to undo the damage.

Research conducted in the last few years has revealed a number of factors responsible for the low literacy rate among Indigenous children in India. These children have socio-cultural characteristics and are disregarded for having different linguistic backgrounds, resulting in low levels of academic performance and success in both their mother tongue and mainstream languages.

Koraput district of southern Orissa is under the Fifth Schedule of the State. According to the 2011 census, the education rate of the tribes of the district is 50.56. Male literacy is 49.7%, and female literacy is 51.4%.

According to the annual status report for the academic year (ASER) 2018, less than 20 per cent of children in the quarter can take standard two-level lessons in Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada and Raigarh districts.

It is time to reconsider the status of access to inclusive education in the remote tribal coastal areas of Koraput.

Once known as the ‘Red Corridor’ of Orissa, the Potangi blocks of Bandugaon, Narayanpatna, Laxmipur, Dashmantapur, Boipariguda, Nandapur and Koraput are slowly restoring peace and stability.

Thanks to a strategic campaign jointly conducted by the state and central governments, various development projects and initiatives are seen in this regard.

However, local civil society groups claim that access to inclusive education has become one of the main challenges facing indigenous peoples and has exacerbated the Coronavirus Epidemic (COVID-19).

Tongue and technique

As a result, online education has become a new norm across India to overcome the education system. But for many tribal children in the interior of Koraput, online mobile education proved to be a distant dream.

Madan Muduli, Assistant Block Education Officer, Bandhugaon Block, Government and School Education Department, Orissa, noted: “With less mobile network and lack of smartphones, perhaps 15 per cent indigenous students in the district will be able to enter classes online.”

In many areas, due to faulty networks, searching for accessible places for students on a daily basis has become a daily routine.

Saroj Lenka, a veteran corporate-based journalist, said, “First-generation students in remote tribal villages often lack online facilities for home-based education. Ninety percent of children regularly use newspapers, maps, atlases, periodic, no jarzone. “And the book.”

Academics report that the Mother Tongue Multilingual Education (MTBML) approach has been neglected when designing modules for online learning.

Raigad-based development professional Ronit Saber emphasized: “MTBML is the most important condition for the education of indigenous children, most of whom are first generation learners.”

The impact of the lack of multilingual education is multifaceted; A consequence of high drop-out rates among indigenous children. Saber Solar is working on inclusive and inclusive education for the indigenous community.

To overcome this language barrier, the Orissa government introduced MTBML in 19 indigenous languages ​​for students. According to the education policy of the central government, tribal children should be educated in their mother tongue in the fifth grade and within these five years Oriya and English will be added later as other subjects. “The epidemic has severely disrupted MTBML for tribal children. We are seeing a big decline in the coming years.

Despite the critical situation, international development agencies, in collaboration with the government and civil society, have taken some committed initiatives to stabilize disrupted education in rural and tribal areas.

UNICEF, Government of Orissa in collaboration with the Department of Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) launched Alternative Education and Monitoring Program (ALMP) to bring disadvantaged children to school.

Prakash Saunta, a student of a government primary school in Dashmantapur block, said: “My teachers started going to the village. Under his guidance I am studying difficult subjects. “

ALMP has been implemented in all 30 districts of Orissa, with the ultimate challenge of having only 4,700 teachers to reach the 300,000 school-going children of the ST and SC community.

Surprisingly, contrary to disclosure, many other primitive children are not fortunate enough to be teachers in their villages – the 4,700 teachers are not too close to the ideal student-teacher ratio to adequately promote the millions of children living in remote areas.

Because of this national inequality, the persistent retention of tribal students has become a challenge for them and the epidemic widens the already existing gaps in access to education.

Do it differently

The epidemic has also caused problems related to the overall nutrition of indigenous children in Orissa. The burden of food insecurity among indigenous peoples has increased due to the lack of livelihood, economic crisis and adequate food and shelter.

For example, a study by Hagar Watch-Right Eating found that 77 percent of the most vulnerable tribes are now being forced to eat less. They have significantly reduced food intake compared to before the lockdown.

In this context, since the establishment of the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) Covid-19, the families of about 30,000 Indigenous students have been assisted with the distribution of free rations and teaching materials on a monthly basis.

Devendra Kumar Soven, skill development developer for the UNV-UNDP project in Bhubaneswar, said: “KISS’s innovative initiative has shown a subtle way to address the health, nutrition and educational needs of tribal children during the epidemic.”

It addresses fundamental inequalities between food insecurity and epidemics, as well as raising broader concerns such as access to basic healthcare and health products.

“My son used to be very shy in the village,” said Rangavati Santa, a 44-year-old Konda from Kanjariguda village in Koraput district’s Laximpur block. Now, we see other kids helping them with their studies. “

Rangavati’s son Naveen is studying Computer Science (Hons) at Mount KISS. Asked what he would like to do in the future, Naveen said with confidence, “I want to be a software engineer. I saw a computer Koraput for the first time. Since then I want to know more about it. “

Naveen Sant with his mother in Dashamantapur block of Koraput district.  Photo courtesy: Abhijit MohantyNaveen Sant with his mother in Dashamantapur block of Koraput district. Photo courtesy: Abhijit Mohanty

Inspired by her, many of her friends in the village are interested in studying computer science, but lack the necessary pre-requisite resources and educational facilities.

Shikshabandhan is another civil society organization that has established cultural curricula and primers as well as lively libraries based on the needs of indigenous children. It starts special classes for tribal children during the lockout.

With the help of volunteers and staff, classes are held at the community hall for two to three hours each morning. “Our focus is not only on academic content, but also on skills development,” said Ananta Samanta, coordinator of Muniguda Raisdar in Sikhkhand. “Life skills education is important for the overall development of Indigenous children.”

Among the common things, children are sensitive to maintaining basic hygiene and hygiene by using soaps and sanitizers, cutting nails and practicing social distance.

“So far, more than 1,000 indigenous children have benefited from this special class,” Samantha said. However, there are still many gray areas.

“Tribal children have become a major barrier to language learning,” he said. Out of reach, distance learning strategies must consider the learning skills of each medium for the linguistic and cultural background of different languages.

“The government should focus on developing teaching materials in local dialects based on the socio-economic considerations of the tribes,” he said.

The Fifth Schedule area has inadequate operational schools with playgrounds, toilets, kitchens and basic facilities for teaching assistants. According to the ASER 2018 report on school facilities in Orissa, about 11 per cent schools do not have kitchens for lunch and eight per cent schools do not have drinking water facilities.

Twenty percent of electricity is not usable due to the availability of toilet water. The report further said that 20 per cent schools do not have libraries and 44 per cent schools do not have electricity connection. About ten percent of schools do not have separate toilets for girls.

“The war is not over,” said Manas Mohanty, KISS district coordinator. “We reaffirm our collective commitment to assist tribal children and their communities in these difficult times,” he said.

“In reality, there is an urgent need to release information on the inclusive education of the tribes, primary health care services, life-saving health messages and the KOID-11 crisis that could affect their lives.”

Published opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect them Under the earth

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