Namath Basai, the State government’s unique programme of teaching tribal children in their mother tongue, has become a runaway hit in Attappady.
The programme, implemented by the Samagra Siksha Kerala (SSK), has succeeded in retaining hundreds of tribal children in their online classes by making them feel at home with the language of instruction.
The SSK has distributed some 50 laptops exclusively for Namath Basai. Pre-recorded classes are offered through a YouTube channel.
Most children of 192 hamlets in Attappady began enjoying the classes when lessons in Namath Basai were introduced a few weeks ago. Classes are being offered in three tribal languages in Attappady.
Out of the 192 hamlets in Attappady, 149 belong to the Irula tribe, 24 to the Muduka tribe and 19 to the Kurumba tribe. Naturally, the project got its name in Irula language. Namath Basai in Irula means ‘our language’.
The hamlets are spread across Agali, Pudur, and Sholayur grama panchayats. Most hamlets in Sholayur are Irula, and most colonies in Pudur are that of Kurumba tribe. But in Agali, which has 73 hamlets, the Irula, Muduka and Kurumba tribes are evenly spread.
“Teaching in the tribal language has to a good extent stopped students from dropping out, which is quite usual in hamlets,” said Sakthivel K., one of the Irula resource persons.
A teacher at Government UP School, Kottathara, Mr. Sakthivel said the classes in their tribal mother tongue has added a new verve to the online studies.
Apart from him, 12 resource persons were being used for Namath Basai classes. The Education Department is reportedly planning to encourage schools in tribal areas too to promote classes in tribal mother tongue.
“This scheme is going a long way in preserving the ethnic culture and language of the tribespeople. The learning experience is made more down to earth. The children could feel what they were being instructed. They are learning in a language of which they are proud of,” said C.P. Vijayan, SSK block project coordinator in Attappady.
Namath Basai is being introduced in the tribal belts of Wayanad and Idukki as well. Classes are offered in the Oorali, Mutuvan and Paniya languages in Idukki.