ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Education in Mother Tongue

Impact of Multilingual Education in Odisha

Mother tongue-based multilingual education is a well-established strategy to address the high dropout rates and poor educational performances of schoolchildren in the tribal regions of India. Odisha is one of the pioneering states to have adopted this policy to reduce the dropout rates amongst primary school students. This article reports on a study undertaken in the tribal-dominated district of Sundargarh to generate information on the issues and challenges involved in the implementation of the MTB MLE programme in the district. The study reveals that certain administrative, language and social issues exist at a latent level which the MTB MLE approach has not been able to overcome.

Mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB MLE) involves instruction in a child’s first language (L1), usually with the intention of gradually progressing to a second language (L2) or third language (L3) at a later point of time in primary school. In a multilingual context, children begin their studies in a familiar language, and later, they are introduced to those same concepts in the dominant state language. A MTB MLE programme is particularly beneficial during early childhood schooling—from Class I till Class V. When children are taught in languages they are familiar with, it generates interest in the subject, increases their confidence, and motivates them towards learning.

Existing literature (Pattanayak 1981; Fishman 1996; Thomas and Collier 1997; Baker 2000; Cummins 2000, 2001; Magga et al 2004; Skutnaab-Kangas 2000, 2009) is unanimous on the benefits of mother tongue development in contexts where multiple languages are used for a variety of purposes. According to Kelkar (1994) “own language” learning has a “beneficial effect on other language learning and teaching.” Lightbrown and Spada (2013) have also observed that continued education in the home language contributes substantially to a successful acquisition of the school language in the long run. With the 2001 Census accounting for 234 mother tongues with total speaker strength of 10,000 and above, India certainly is a fertile ground for practising a MTB MLE system, for the linguistic and educational development of children. Cummins (2001) even goes so far to say that, “to reject a child’s language in the school is to reject the child.”

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Updated On : 16th Mar, 2017
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