Educational package for children of the Kadar community: Initiating children into formal education easily – Kerala & Tamil Nadu

K. PRADEEP, The Hindu, KOCHI, July 19, 2012 | To read the full story, click here >>

An educational package for pre-primary children of the Kadar tribe incorporating their own language will be distributed in 22 anganwadis this week. Dr. Amitha Bachan, the man behind the project says that it will help initiate the children into formal education easily

They are not like any other children. These kids of the primitive Kadar tribes grow up in a world of their own, a world of the jungle, animals, birds, rivers. They speak a dialect of their own, are brought up in a dissimilar culture. Their contact with the ‘official’ language of the region is limited perhaps to a few common words. And their exposure to the outside world very restricted. […]

When these children begin their tryst with education, at the pre-primary stage in the ‘anganwadis’ near their settlements, they find themselves lost. The language used for instruction and communication here is frighteningly strange. The process flows on to the primary level too. Unable to fully comprehend classroom teaching and the activities, unable to read the language taught or understand the text books properly, majority of these children drop out of school.

Sensing the need for an educational package that incorporates tribal language with the regular teaching methods, the Western Ghats Hornbill Foundation (WGHF), in association with Integrated Child Services Scheme of the Athirappilly panchayat, has come out with a set of two thematic books, a workbook, puzzles and educative cards that is based on the language and knowledge of the Kadar tribe.

The concept has been developed on the thought that use of tribal language in the initial years can go a long way to make them comfortable with the process of education. “The first language taught should be what they are familiar with, their own language. Through this they must first acquire knowledge of their own culture, ethnicity. The official lingo can be introduced gradually as this is essential for their integration into mainstream schools and the society at large,” informs Dr. Amitha Bachan K. H., Director (Research) WGHF and Assistant Professor (Botany), MES Asmabi College, Kodungallur.

The Kadar tribes are endemic to the Annamalais in the Western Ghats. They inhabit 24 settlements of which 20 are in Kerala and four in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. The majority of them occupy around eight settlements in Vazhachal. Till the last century they were unfamiliar to the outside world. This non-agricultural, seasonally nomadic, tribe live by collecting non-timber forest produce like honey, wild nutmeg etc. Construction of dams, emergence of plantations has hugely displaced their habitat pushing them to the verge of extinction. […]

Documentation of the Kadar tribes has not been done earlier. […]”

The illustrations in the book are all based on photographs taken from the tribal settlements and surroundings. So, in the two books you have commonplace objects, characters, animals, birds and things hand-drawn, in bright colours, child-friendly images. The illustrations are by three children Ali Akbar, Vishnu P. V. and Anish C. S. The concept of this educational package has been developed by Amitha Bachan, Shajan M. P., Fasila P. K., and Anitha K. T. Given in these books are the words in tribal language with Malayalam and English translation. […]

The Western Ghats Hornbill Foundation has been supported in this endeavour by the Forest Department, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (A Tree) and Centre for Environment and Development, Thiruvananthapuram.

We are now working on field guides on books, trees, flowers for tribes and nature lovers that will have a pictorial index. We have also started work on a nature education series books for senior children based on indigenous knowledge,” says Amitha Bachan.

Source: Lessons through their language – The Hindu
Date Visited: Sun Nov 27 2016 22:29:56 GMT+0100 (CET)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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