We believe the multilingual education brings a strong foundation in the home language and a good bridge to additional languages.
Asha Kiran Society works in an area where schools are mostly non-existent or non-functional. The development indicators of the area – morbidity, mortality etc are among the lowest in the country. The children are mostly monolingual with occasional exposure to the state language depending on geographic proximity to the town. A large majority of the parents have not had formal education. They are rarely exposed to print through signs and media, but have a rich tradition of oral storytelling, folklore, songs and dance. Asha Kiran Society has been involved in language projects in three tribal languages: Gadaba, Bondo and Desiya.
The Desiya, Gadaba and Bondo speaking children of the Lamtaput & Khairput Blocks, Koraput District, Orissa, do not achieve well in the State language-Oriya main-stream schools due to
- Their limited proficiency in the Govt. school’s Medium of Instruction-Oriya as opposed to their home language
- The curricula and instructional materials in the existing system
- The non-tribal classroom teacher’s lack of home language communicative skills & irregular involvement.
- Inactive Village Education Committees & lack of ownership by the community members
- Poverty levels that force parents to count children as part of their work force resulting in irregular attendance.
As a result children often drop out by the end of the primary school program with very few moving on to complete school education (especially the girl child).
- The younger generation of the Desiya, Gadaba, Bondo speaking people groups begin to value their identity and cultural heritage and are being equipped for life-long learning and living.
- Quality Education increasingly becomes a priority for the community ensuring higher enrollment, retention and completion of education.
Strategy For AKS Multilingual Education
- Develop a curriculum with a strong foundation in the home language and good bridging strategies for oral & written transition to school languages.
- Conduct various phases of attitudinal & professional training for local teachers and supervisors who have had a strong background of memorization & rote learning.
- To form and strengthen Village Education Committees by building awareness on their role in running the MLE centres to facilitate long-term ownership.
- Regular networking with Government Officials at the Block & District levels, advocating the need for including Desiya, Gadaba as the Medium of Instruction at the primary level.
- To lower attrition rates of Desiya, Gadaba, Bondo speaking primary school students by giving them a positive pre-school experience (with special focus on the girl child).
- Make education relevant for children by developing an innovative and relevant curriculum and methods of learning.
- Provide a strong foundation in the home language and a smooth transition into additional languages enabling the child to use both the local and national languages more fluently as the basis for learning.
- Foster a sense of pride in their language and heritage by being able to pass on their traditions, folklore, craft, songs and dance accurately to others. A multilingual, multicultural approach to education is preferred which provides a bridge between languages and cultures.
- Prepare children for the existing system of education beyond primary grades to tackle cognitive demands in the second language in the context of learning academic subjects.
- Quality Education increasingly becomes a priority for the community.
Rationale for the home language component
- The children use their home language in all their domains.
- Language and curriculum differences of the existing system are great.
- High dropout rates and low achievement rates.
- Children forced to sacrifice their culture and heritage to achieve their educational goals
- Positive language Use and attitudes among the local communities
Information Education Communication (IEC) programs were conducted in all the villages in the first year. The night plays were performed by a local Desiya youth troupe. It focused on the importance of early childhood or pre-school education in the home language before the child enters formal schooling.
- Selection and Supervision of the pre-school teachers including dispatching salaries and monitoring leave of the teachers.
- Monitoring the use of pre-school centre consumables.
- Selection and admission of children.
- Construction/Allotment of a school building.
- Choice of nutrition supplements for the children.
- Bank accounts have been opened for all the VECs.
The curriculum for the mother tongue component has to be made relevant to the tribal children. The tribal lifestyle mostly revolves around subsistence agriculture. A curriculum based on the seasonal calendar of the group will enhance their interest and achievement besides fostering a sense of pride in their cultural heritage. Moreover this will provide a strong foundation in their mother tongue building on their knowledge and experience.
The home language component is introduced at the pre-school level. This ensures a strong foundation in their home language. At a later grade good bridging strategies are developed for smooth transition to additional languages. Providing time exclusively on building oral skills in the home language and state language before introducing the literacy component will strengthen progress in language development. Content areas to be taught in the home language and gradually introduced and incorporated into using the state language as the medium of instruction.
Teachers’ training manuals are developed and in-service training conducted for facilitators and supervisors that enable teachers then to provide instruction that fosters creativity, critical thinking, competence and confidence. Some of the topics in the training besides teaching methods will be:
- Attitudinal training.
- The rights of a child.
- Conducive environment for learning.
- Strengths & weaknesses of tribal children.
- Intended learner Outcomes.
At the Teachers’ monthly meetings held during the first week, VEC members accompany their teachers. The teachers are expected to collect the monthly tuition fees, and conduct parents meetings. Refresher training's on teaching are held during the monthly meeting. Teachers practice teaching Oriya, English, Math and Science materials for their particular grades. Health classes were conducted on the meaning of health and various perspectives and on scabies. At the VEC meeting, the members are reminded about their responsibilities.
Supervisors meetings are held on all Saturdays and presided over by the Co-ordinator and the Program Manager. The Supervisors give a report of their monitoring visits through the week. They give an update about many aspects of the centres. They discuss steps that can be taken for challenges faced and make a plan for the following week.
Community Participation / Ownership
The community needs to be part of the process to ensure success and sustainability. Their input is crucial regarding decisions about the kind of education that will be provided, who will be involved in running and management and to what extent they can participate in teaching. The preschool facilitators will be educated community members with a minimum qualification of Grade 7. Village Education Committees will be formed in the respective villages. These committees will oversee the functioning of the program and play a vital role in selection of facilitators, supervisors, parental involvement in the curriculum, etc.
A system is in place for documenting the components of the program.
Monitoring and Evaluation Component
- Weekly and monthly supervisory visits are made by supervisors. Their visits facilitate in-service training besides other aspects.
- Routine weekly supervisory visits are made to all centres by the Coordinator.
- Monthly reporting is done by by teachers making sure teachers are regular and competent.
- Monthly monitoring visits are done by Program Manager & Linguist- to tighten supervision & build relationships.
- Evaluation of children's progress is done for each term; from LKG, to Class I to evaluate children's’ progress and teachers’ competency.
- External Evaluation has been done twice to assess impact of the program on the community.
- 17 MLE centers- 13 Desiya, 1 Gadaba and 3 Bondo centres.
- 6 Supervisors.
- 17 Village Education Committees.
- Tentative curriculum prepared - LKG-Class 5
- Positive language Use and attitudes among the local communities