IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Mother Tonque based education      

22nd November, 2021 Society

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  • The ST and SC Development Department of the State government has already started working on project called ‘Samhati’ to address the language issues faced by tribal students in early grades or elementary classes. 

Details of Project Samhati:

  • all teachers of primary level would be provided functional knowledge of tribal languages and way of communicating with tribal students.
  • In the first phase, 1,000 teachers would be asked to obtain these language skills.
  • Government has already prepared bilingual dictionaries in 21 languages and distributed them.
  • Trilingual proficiency module which will help a person learn tribal languages has also been prepared.
  • efforts are being made to develop textbooks in tribal languages in sync with the syllabus of State boards, government textbook norms and National Education Policy.


Importance of Mother Tongue based Education:

  • A tribal student sees the world through his own language.
  • The most important aspect of the mother-tongue based education is that it helps save endangered tribal language.
  • If language is saved, the culture will be preserved automatically.
  • Mother tongue makes it easier for children to pick up and learn other languages.
  • Mother tongue develops a child’s personal, social and cultural identity.
  • Using mother tongue helps a child develop their critical thinking and literacy skills.
  • Research shows that children learning in mother tongue adopt a better understanding of the curriculum.
  • Skills learnt in mother tongue do not have to be re-taught when when the child transfers to a second language.
  • Children learning in mother tongue enjoy school more and learn faster due to feeling comfortable in their environment.
  • Self-esteem is higher for children learning in mother tongue.
  • Parent child interaction increases as the parent can assist with homework.
  • Studies show that children that capitalise on learning through multilingualism enjoy a higher socioeconomic status earn higher earnings.


Challenges in the implementation:

  • Parents fear that it widens the divide between those who can communicate in English and those who cannot and their child will be left behind.
  • Implementing it might not be financially viable because of the lack of funds.
  • There is a challenge of “administrative doability” of the policy because of the lack of trained staff, including teachers, to implement the change.
  • Another challenge is selecting which mother tongues become the medium of instruction in a school and which do not. “Language is extremely political,” .
  • Many languages are non-standardised scripts that are not accepted by everyone in the community. 


Initiatives by the Government Of India

  • Article 350A of the Constitution states that every state and local authority should endeavour to provide “adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups”.
  • The report of the Kothari Commission on education and national development (1964-66) suggested that in tribal areas, for the first two years of school, the medium of instruction and books should be in the local tribal language. 
  • The Right to Education Act, 2009, also said that as far as possible, the medium of instruction in school should be the child’s mother tongue.
  • The National Education Policy (NEP) - 2020, says that wherever possible the medium of instruction in schools until Grade V -- preferably until Grade VIII -- should be the mother tongue or the local or regional language.


Way Forward:

  • Introducing the local language as the medium of instruction should definitely be done in two situations--one in areas located along interstate borders and for migrant populations.
  • Government must try an MLE (Mother tongue language education) model out in some schools across the country for about three-four years, identifying the problems in implementation and the cost of change and then preparing an action plan that resolves these problems.
  • Due to the high number of Mother tonque , government should formally mandate that the mother tongue be used in the classroom by teachers and students. This would allow children to talk, debate and express themselves in their language while also learning the regional language or English.



  • Mother tongue as the medium of instruction is only the first step. We need all the other things to be in place to make any meaningful change.