An effective practice to vitalize indigenous languages through Mother-Tongue based Multi-Lingual Education in Jharkhand, India

Author: Binay Pattanayak (Jharkhand Rai University)
Speaker: Binay Pattanayak
Topic: Language revitalization
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


Jharkhand, India is highly multilingual state. It is home to around 19 major indigenous and regional languages. The state has not done anything systematically for years to document, promote and vitalize all the languages of the state. The formal schools use Hindi as medium of instruction. Consequently Jharkhand used to see the nation’s highest dropout of children in early primary grades!

To understand and address this, under the leadership of the author, a center for research and innovations on children’s languages was established in 2011. The centre was named as Mother-Tongue based Active Language Learning (M-TALL) akhra. It consisted of university language researchers, representatives from related Government departments and NGOs, community language specialists, cultural workers, anthropologists and students. M-TALL akhra undertook a series of activities to design mother-tongue based multilingual education and vitalize all languages including a good number of endangered languages in the state.

Conducted a state wide socio-linguistic survey in 2012. The survey found out that around 96% children spoke in their tribal or regional languages at home, playground and local market. Hindi is very different from their languages. Hence majority of children failed to understand their textbooks and teachers. Consequently some of them were pushed out of school.

Collected a wide range of learning resources from villages of all districts in the form of stories, songs, riddles, toys, games, idioms, skits, etc. M-TALL akhra in 2013 designed ‘Meri Bhasha mein Meri Duniya’, children’s bilingual picture dictionaries in 9 tribal and regional languages for use in Pre-School Education Centers and Early Primary Grades of all districts.

Designed ‘BhashaPuliya’, a mother-tongue based Pre-School Education package. A pilot of Bhasha Puliya undertaken in 2014 enabled 80% children desired school readiness and good performance in class 1. Programme was up-scaled by department in 2016 to 6 districts.

Developed in 2016 new textbooks in 5 tribal and 2 regional languages. NCERT approved the books. Books printed by department of education were supplied to around 1000 schools in 10 districts in 2017 for initiating a Mother-Tongue based Multi-Lingual Education (MTB-MLE) programme.

This paper aims to elaborate process of language vitalization through the mother-tongue based education in multilingual Jharkhand.

Keywords: M-TALL akhra, socio-linguistic survey, multilingual, Bhasha Puliya, MTB-MLE