Adivasi Sahitya Sabha to set up special school

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By RAJIV KONWAR
  • Published 23.11.10
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Guwahati, Nov. 22: The Adivasi Sahitya Sabha is gearing up to start a unique school where Adivasi students will get the opportunity to study in the popular Adivasi language — Sadri.

The school, to be set up in Sonitpur district, will start functioning from December this year.

Adivasis were brought to the state by British tea planters from different parts of the country before Independence, to work in the nascent tea industry. As they were from different parts of the country, they still use different languages. Sadri works like a link among the various Adivasi linguistic communities in Assam.

Today, Adivasis who constitute a significant percentage of the state’s total population live mainly in Darrang, Sonitpur, Nagaon, Jorhat, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Cachar, Hailakandi, Karimganj and Tinsukia districts. The Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA) president Prahlad Gowala claimed that the population of Adivasis in the state is around 70 lakh.

The school, which will be started on a pilot basis in the Bhutia Ali area under Dhekiajuli sub-division will cover at least 40 students in its first batch, said Wilfred Topno, president of the sabha.

Topno said while the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) International has provided technical support to start the school, PAJHRA, an NGO, has provided the necessary logistical support.

SIL International is a non-profit organisation which works for development of languages across the world. Its activities include research, translation, training and materials development. Founded in 1934, it has grown from a small training programme with two students to a team of over 5,500 from over 60 countries.

Topno said initially the school would have only pre-primary classes. The primary-level classes will be introduced once the school gets good response from the parents and the students.

To convince parents to enrol their children in the new school, sabha members visited several villages over the last few months. “There has been very good response from the parents. We are going to start the school from December this year,” said Topno.

The sabha has also organised several camps among members across the state, to discuss the possible difficulties in starting the school. Topno said they have already prepared the necessary books for the new school.

He said Adivasi students face innumerable problems when they pursue education in other languages. He added that if the students are taught in their mother tongue, they would be able to understand the course contents more easily.

Kamal Tanti, a poet from the Adivasi community and a research scholar at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, welcomed the move and said that it would encourage students to go to school.

“The school will help the students to learn fast and make their classes interesting. Even if the students shift to other languages later, they will face less problems after continuing a few years in their mother tongue,” he said.