Gujarat's Narmada District Introduces Local Tribal Dialects In Schools

Gujarat's Narmada District Introduces Local Tribal Dialects In Schools

Inspired by the National Education Policy 2020's emphasis on regional languages, they partnered with the Gujarat Educational Research and Training Council to develop modules for 17 distinct dialects spoken across the state.

Melvyn ThomasUpdated: Thursday, January 18, 2024, 08:27 PM IST
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FPJ Surat

In the tribal hinterland of Gujarat,  where the Narmada River carves its path, reside communities whose voices have long been unheard in the classrooms. But, within the tribal belt of Sagabara and Dediapada talukas, a unique educational initiative is bridging the gap between language and learning. For the first time, the Narmada District Education and Training Centre has developed a special module for primary schools, bringing education closer to home through the local Dehwali and Ambudi dialects.

Local dialects find their way into text books

These dialects, once confined to daily conversations, are now finding their way onto textbooks and teachers' tongues. Words like "septi" (tail), "chide" (bird), and "ninda" (forehead), once unfamiliar to most Gujaratis, are now woven into the fabric of education for hundreds of tribal children.

"When teachers from outside come here, they teach in Gujarati," explains a local villager, "But our children don't understand. They feel lost." This disconnect, prevalent in many rural areas with diverse linguistic landscapes, often hinders the learning process for young minds.

But the Narmada District Education and Training Bhawan has taken a bold step towards inclusivity. Inspired by the National Education Policy 2020's emphasis on regional languages, they partnered with the Gujarat Educational Research and Training Council to develop modules for 17 distinct dialects spoken across the state.

3,000-word treasure trove of knowledge translated into students' mother tongue

For the children of Sagabara and Dediapada, this translates to a 3,000-word treasure trove of knowledge in their mother tongue. From everyday greetings like "rodih nishalum awaja" (come to school every day) to playful rhymes and engaging stories, the module covers a vast spectrum of topics, making learning not just accessible but also culturally relevant.

"This module is a bridge between our children and the education system," says a teacher, beaming with pride. "Now, they can express themselves freely, ask questions, and participate actively in class."

The impact is already evident. As new teachers arrive in the district, they are equipped with the tools to understand and communicate with their students effectively. Over 160 teachers in Dediapada and 82 in Sagabara have undergone training in their respective dialects, ensuring a smooth transition for both teachers and students.

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