Guided tour – Part 7

The stupendous task of resolving long-standing imbalances requires committed educators, politicians, academics, social and medical workers. They can only succeed if more tribal youths gain access to quality  and actively contribute a more balanced Media portrayal.

At the same time, all tribal children are entitled to retaining their cultural and linguistic identity:

A sensitive cadre of teachers and bureaucracy is definitely required to make the difference. At another level, educational deprivation must be seen in the context of overall deprivation of the community and hence emphasis must be placed on improving the situation of tribal communities in general. Restoring land and livelihoods, empowering women, providing basic civic amenities such as fuel, water and sanitation are preconditions to advancements of rights of tribal children. – Archana Mehendale

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This agrees with the experiences gathered at the Viswa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust in Gudalur (Tamil Nadu). Here members of several tribal communities belonging to different linguistic groups and surrounded by three official languages – Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada – manage their own educational and health institutions.

Based on personal teaching experiences with English medium in Adivasi education, the trust’s co-founder Stan Thekaekara observes:

Our challenge therefore is not ensuring that they do not learn other languages but ensuring that this is not at the cost of their own language.  | More about Multi-lingual education >>