Marlavai Training Centre – model for present day education of tribal people – Andhra Pradesh

Marlavai village in Jainoor mandal of Adilabad district was not this sleepy when Austrian anthropologist Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf was at work during the decade of 1940.

He had launched his pioneering experiment in education of tribal people at this village.

This experiment, christened Gond Education Scheme in Adilabad district, was the first concrete step in tribal education in the then State of Hyderabad in 1943.

The scheme eventually became the model on which the present day education of tribal people in Andhra Pradesh is designed.

Literacy is indispensable as the first step towards enabling tribal people to operate within the orbit of advanced communities,” the legendary researcher notes in his book ‘Tribes of India – The Struggle for Survival’.

He founded the Marlavai Training Centre (MTC) to produce teachers who can teach in Gondi dialect and others to work in Revenue and Forest Departments.

The MTC had a humble beginning with just five semi-literate Gonds as students. They underwent training as per the Gondi primers and readers composed in Devanagari script by Prof. Haimendorf himself.

In 1946, the government opened 30 primary schools where the teachers from MTC began teaching. In another three years, the number of primary schools reached 90, signifying the success of the Gond Education Scheme. […]

The Centre also produced five village officers, one Revenue inspector, five clerks and seven forest guards. […]

The excellent progress came to a naught in later years which became a cause of worry for Haimendorf. He makes a mention of this in ‘Tribes of India’ apparently piqued at the negative development as Marlavai produced only 11 literates until 1979 though the first primary school was started here in 1945.

Source: “Education of tribal people goes downhill” by S. Harpal Singh, The Hindu, Andhra Pradesh, 25 February 2012
Address :
Date Visited: Mon Mar 05 2012 19:40:49 GMT+0100 (CET)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Brought up in a system in which all communications are by word of mouth, and hence used to trusting verbal statements, tribal populations get confused by constant reference to documents and written rules, which increasingly determine all aspects of rural life.

Tribes of India: The Struggle for Survival >>
Austrian anthropologist’s ashes entombed in A.P. village
S. Harpal Singh
The anthropologist had lived in the village to study the problems of aboriginal tribe | More >>

A review of our educational and training policy is desperately needed to educate tribals, the backward classes and the poor by  Neeru Nanda, Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

[…] The ground reality of the average elementary school in rural, tribal and backward areas is grim. A close look at a case study of a tribal district in Andhra Pradesh can help us understand the problem. 

The Andhra experience

The state of education in the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, 30 years after Independence, offers a unique message. The state government has made commendable efforts to educate Gonds by setting up ashrams (boarding schools). Investment has also been very high. In 1979, Purer Haimendorf – who has written the book, “Tribes of India” – did a survey of all the tribal areas in Andhra Pradesh. […]

What is to be done? 

Education for tribal people and remote rural areas will really start looking up when the National Council for Teachers Education and CBSE work out a vocational training course of two years duration, so as to qualify young persons to teach in elementary schools after the plus two exam (12th grade). […]

The 50th year of independence is for us a year of soul-searching and serious evaluation. There is still a great deal to be done for the poorest of the poor whom Mahatma Gandhi never lost sight of, for whom, in fact he wanted the whole structure of government to be tailored. Though we are nowhere near that ideal, significant numbers of educationists, managers and bureaucrats have already moved ahead on new paths in this direction in alliance with dedicated NGOs. The time has come to break out of the colonial mindset and to think, not radically, but pragmatically, to plan with passion and to dare to deviate. 

The author is Education Secretary, National Capital Territory of Delhi

Source: Educating the underprivileged
Date visited: 14 September 2019

Learn more about tribal communities and education in Andhra Pradesh >>

Tribal communities of Bastar District

Baiga | Bhatra | Dhruva | Gond | Halba | Madia | Maria | Muria

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See also


Appropriate education for Adivasi children – the Vidyodaya School model at Gudalur


Books on tribal culture and related resources | Indian publishers

Childhood | Childrens rights: UNICEF India | Safe search

Community facilities

eBook | Background guide for education

eBook | “Where the mind is without fear”: Tagore, Gitanjali and the Nobel Prize

Education and literacy | Lecture “A View of Higher Education in India”

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Endangered language | Multi-lingual education

Health and nutrition | Recommendations by the Expert Committee


Particularly vulnerable tribal group

Residential school | Ekalavya

Santali education | Teaching Santal children by Boro Baski

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