How to improve tribal Education in India?

Context: In order to revamp the tribal education system, the educationists intend to recognise tribal culture, language, cognitive strength, curriculum and inherent learning ability of the tribal children. 

Although several initiatives like establishment of Ashram Schools, Ekalavya Model Residential Schools, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya have been taken, there are many challenges in ensuring holistic education in the tribal hinterlands. 

What are the reforms required in tribal education system?  

  • Teacher-student relationships: Teacher-student relationships are a very important factor as healthy relationships will promote meaningful learning in classrooms. 
    • It should be the responsibility of the teachers to spread, respect and value the culture, traditions, mannerisms, languages of the tribal students. 
  • Teaching in mother tongue: The students should be taught in their mother tongue and every state must have adequate facilities for the same, as stated in Article 350A of the Indian Constitution. Resolute efforts by states are needed to overcome the language barrier. 
    • For instance: 
      • The Odisha Government and civil society organizations have made some efforts to educate the Gonds, Bhils, Santals, and other tribal groups in their mother-tongue. The literacy rate among some of these tribes has gradually gone up over the years. 
  • Decentralised syllabus: The deputy director of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) has suggested that the syllabus of textbooks should be decentralised and the socio-cultural and economic situations of tribal people should be kept in mind while preparing learning material. 
  • Exploring folklore: The schools should explore folklore in primary education, which would help tap tribals’ rich tradition in arts, crafts, music, songs, fables, etc. Similarly, stories and riddles should be collected, documented, and used by teachers.  
  • Making it inclusive: Incorporation of tribal youth in their culture is vital. In order to ensure their active participation and cooperation in sensitisation programmes on the importance of education, the government should work with the tribal leaders. 

What is the role of United Nations? 

  • UNICEF, in collaboration with UNESCO, is supporting the Union government to achieve quality education for all children between 6 and 14 years. The key areas for cooperation include: 
  • Reaching out to vulnerable and deprived children. 
  • Adapting international practices. 
  • Supporting care providers and community advocates to demand inclusive and quality education. 
  • UNICEF is also lending its support for the development of child-friendly schools and systems (CFSS). Assistance has also been provided for monitoring tools and the integration of CFSS indicators into state plans in support of making child-friendly schools. 
  • Under Promoting the Rights of Disabled Children to Quality Education project, UNICEF provides support to states to make primary education curriculum more inclusive for children with disabilities and building the technical capacity of teachers. 

Steps by the Indian government to promote tribal education: The formation of Ashram Schools, Ekalavya Model Residential Schools, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, pre-matric scholarships and vocational training centres. 

What is the way forward? 

  • Firstly, there should be a collaboration and strategic dialogue between government, policy-makers, and international development institutions to mutually put efforts to address the chronic problems and allocate adequate funds from central and state budget for tribal education.  
  • Secondly, policy framers need to focus on a long-term strategy to enhance educational status of tribal children. 
  • Thirdly, equal access and opportunities should be given to tribal children to empower them. 
  • Lastly, tribal communities will have to be uplifted economically and educationally for promotion of a socio-economically integrated healthy society in the remote pockets. 
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