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Binjhal medium instruction in Bargarh is fake

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Binjhal medium instruction in primary level in the government schools of Bargarh district of Odisha has been reported fake.

Medium of instruction of teaching means a language which is used inside the classroom to inform the student. And if a child is not acquainted with the medium of instruction before entering into the classroom then certainly that is a foreign language for the child. Resultantly the child failed to grasp the teaching or the course content. Teaching a child in an alien language is as if putting the child in deep water without swimming knowledge of the child. So, instruction in mother-tongue is indispensable for the child. Advantage of having a mother-tongue based education enable the child easily grasps the course content as they are used to the vocabulary. Research has shown that children’s first language is the optimal language for literacy and learning throughout primary school (UNESCO 2008 a). Most developed nations have medium of instruction in their mother-tongue. Education is the key to development of the nation and so accordingly the Government of India has enacted Right to Education Act (RTE) on 4th August 2009 keeping provision of compulsory education for children between 6 and 14 in India under article 21 A. India become the 135th country to make education a fundamental right.

Further, the right to receive education in one’s own mother-tongue or native language is recognized by several international instruments. Under the provision of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging National or ethnic, Religious and Linguistic minorities (1992), States are required to take appropriate measures so that, whenever possible, persons belonging to  minorities may have adequate opportunities to learn their mother-tongue or to have instructions in their mother-tongue.

But “Right to Education for All” is grossly violated in Odisha. At present Odia is the medium of instructions in the elementary level in different part of Odisha. But Odia is not the mother-tongue of children of all parts of Odisha. No education in mother-tongue; education denied. Adivasi children are deprived of their fundamental rights. And development from this region has been hijacked.

Literacy is a useful indicator of the relative development of a society. It is widely recognized that societies with a higher percentage of literates have higher levels of development. According to census 2011, literacy rate of India is 74.04% and literacy rate of Odisha is 73.5%, marginally lower to the national rate. But there is a huge gap between the literacy rate of districts of Odia speaking region and adivasi affluent region. Districts of Odia speaking region are ahead of the aggregate literacy rate of Odisha but adivasi affluent districts are lagging behind. Literacy rate in adivasi affluent region ranges from 42% to 70.65% while Odia speaking districts literacy rate ranges from 70.56% to 79.59%.  This is because Odia speaking districts students are getting education in their mother tongue while adivasi affluent region’s students are instruct in Odia, which is not their mother tongue.

On 30th July 2012 the then chief secretary of Odisha directed Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) a body of the Government of Odisha to start mother-tongue based primary education in 10 languages; Munda, Santhali, Kissan, Oraon, Kui, Koya, Bonda, Juanga and Saura; of the state.

Further, OPEPA published an advertisement on dated 25/5/2014 in Sambad daily about recruitment of total 295 Sikshyaa Sahaayak/Sahaayikaa for different languages of different districts like Binjhal (Bargarh), Santhali & Ho(Balasore), Kui(Gajpati), Dibai(Malkangiri), Bhunjia(Nuapada), Pahadi Bhunjia & Kharia(Sundergarh).

We investigated about the implementation of the scheme of Odisha government.

In Bargarh district Odisha government has employed 28 Binjhal language teachers to instruct Binjhal language in the primary level. But the Binjhal language books supplied to the schools are in Odia and just “Binjhal” is mentioned on the cover of the book. We asked the appointed Binjhal language teachers too, but they fumbled to reply.

We further investigated about the idea of providing Odia medium instruction in the name of adivasi languages. We found that, Bargarh district is affluent with Binjhal tribe but Binjhal does not have any different language than the normal Kosali used in the region today. We contacted some Binjhal leaders for further investigations and they say, long ago Binjhal tribe used to have their own language but in the passage of time they left their own language and started using Kosali, Odia and other languages instead.  In this process they lost their language. Now t is a dead language.

And it seems, the Odisha government has started this fake scheme just to grab the emotion of the Binjhal tribe for vote bank.

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