The first ever Mother Tongue based Multilingual Early Childhood Education Learning Laboratory, a collaborative effort of KISS and Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF), was inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here on Sunday.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said the State Government had passed a notification in July last year for developing curriculum in 10 tribal dialects at the pre-primary level. Basing on it, an initiative called Naba Arunima has been at an advanced stage.
The CM also reiterated his Government’s commitment to make quality early childhood education in mother tongue a reality for 1.4 million tribal children of the State. The Early Childhood Development Programme through Mother Tongue based Multilingual Learning Education (MLE) is the first programme of its type in India and is instituted by KISS on its premises jointly with The Netherland-based BvLF.
Founder of KIIT and KISS Achyuta Samanta said it was important for the State to have a policy on mother tongue-based multilingual early childhood education because of its linguistic and cultural diversity. The need assumes added significance as scheduled tribes constitute about 25 per cent of the State’s population, he added. KISS, home to 20,000 tribal children, is the the best laboratory for implementing it, he added.
Dharitri Patnaik, India Representative of BvLF, which has been supporting the campaign for a policy on mother tongue based early childhood education for tribal children in Odisha, said pedagogy is crucial while dealing with young children in their formative years.
This is the first time such an approach has been initiated and Odisha has become a role model for other states in India, she informed. Steps such as regular training of the anganwadi worker and recruitment of teachers from the tribal community would benefit the process, she said and hoped that Odisha would become the first State in the country to have a policy on mother tongue-based multi-lingual early childhood education for its indigenous children.
State Convener of Odisha Adivasi Manch Ido Mandal said the State Government’s initiative in developing Naba-Arunima has been praiseworthy since it has been culture-specific. “We are just a few steps away from making mother tongue based early childhood education a reality for 1.4 million tribal children in Odisha,” he said.