The Telegraph
Saturday , July 27 , 2013
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Folklore in dialects to draw tribal kids

Bhubaneswar, July 26: Selected folklore in four tribal dialects — Soura, Munda, Kui and Juanga — will shortly be published in Odia script.

The step, to be taken by Pratham Books, will help tribal kids in the age group between three and six to read books in Odia script, but through their mother tongue. The multi-lingual exposure will help them cope with the new environment as government schools will use Odia to impart primary education.

To select the tribal stories and poems, 18 authors from the four tribal language groups were chosen. A meeting was organised among them, curriculum developers and publishers.

“Research and pilot studies across the globe have proved that early education in mother tongue prepares a child in the best possible way for higher learning process. As the tribal languages have no scripts of their own, the books will be published in Odia,” said Subir Shukla, principal co-ordinator of Ignus-Erg, an organisation involved in creating story books to reach out to the tribal children.

Isac Karjee, a Soura youth from Guma in Gajapati district, was invited as an author. He said: “There are 50 folklore in Soura dialect, which is spoken by people from Gajapati, Rayagada and Ganjam districts. The experts will select four tales from my language.”

Baidyanath Munda from Sundergarh said five tales were selected from the language, which is spoken in three districts of Sundergarh, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar. There are 60 such tales (poems and stories) in the language. He, however, said the Munda community was developing its own script such as the Santhalis.

Pramod Kumar Diggal from Daringbadi in Kandhamal district hopes that a maximum of 18 to 19 tales might be selected from Kui language. There are nearly 100 folklore in the language, which is spoken by many people in Kandhamal, Ganjam, Boudh and Kalahandi districts.

Maheswar Juanga, a student pursuing master’s in economics at Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, was there to represent the Juanga community, found mostly in Keonjhar, Dhenkanal and in Angul districts. “There are nearly 100 tales in our language, but five will be selected here,” he said.

Himanshu Giri, chief operating officer of Pratham Books, said: “Many tribal students are already in schools due to several schemes by the state governments and the Centre. However, imparting early education to the tribal children in the scheduled languages does not inspire them much as they are different from the mother tongues of other tribal kids. These books in Odia scripts will help the kids love to come to the pre-school centres.”

“The Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority had published text books in tribal languages through Odia script earlier, but this is an attempt to help the pre-school kids to learn stories and poems through their languages. The stories from their own culture and heritage will also help them relate to their roots,” said linguist Smruti Ranjan Jena, a participant.