The Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has raised concerns over the education of Odia-speaking minority groups residing in the border areas of Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand.
Pradhan has sought the intervention of the Chief Ministers of the neighbouring states over the issues pertaining to the Odia language-based education in the bordering villages and resolve it at the earliest.
On Friday, Pradhan wrote letters to CMs, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Hemant Soren, seeking their support and intervention for bringing a resolution ensuring the welfare of Odia students residing in the bordering areas of both states who are interested to learn in Odia language.
In his letter to the Andhra CM, Pradhan wrote, "Odisha and AP share common cultures and multiple interests relating to the promotion of native languages of the respective states in the border villages. Following the demarcation of the border between Odisha and AP, some of the schools in the border areas of Odisha and Andhra have merged with the school systems in Andhra and Odisha respectively. As a result, many Odia and Telugu speaking children in schools in the two states have become minority groups whose native language needs to be supported."
Further in his letter, Pradhan stated that both the state government had entered into an agreement to cater to the needs of the students who wish to learn their respective languages (Telugu in Odisha and Odia in Andhra) in schools. "However, it is noted that requisite support is not being extended to the students of Vishakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts who wish to learn Odia," he said.
However, Odisha has extended support to the students opting to learn Telugu as a language subject in schools including recruiting teachers for the same.
Pradhan has urged the Andhra CM that a similar support to Odia minority students in AP is the need of the hour.
Though schools have reopened in AP, the government is yet to supply textbooks to the Odia medium students in Class X. Pradhan in his letter said that this will adversely affect the education of the Odia-minority students and the cause of maintenance of linguistic diversity in the State.
Pradhan also stated that there is a need for building and enabling an environment to facilitate learning of Odia speaking students.
Keeping the welfare of the minority students of Odisha-Andhra border villages, Pradhan sought personal intervention for proactive and expeditious measures for a mutually agreeable resolution of the issues between the two states.
Meanwhile, in another letter to the Jharkhand CM, Pradhan sought the latter's personal intervention for implementing the values preserved in the New Education Policy 2020 and preserve the best interest of Odia speaking students in Jharkhand.
Pradhan in his letter highlighted that Saraikela and Kharsawan districts in Jharkhand were once Odia speaking princely states and among two of thr 26 Garhjats that made the State of Odisha. However, during the State reorganisation exercise in 1948, the two princely states were clubbed with Bihar which has now become Jharkhand. As estimated, around 20 lakh Odia speaking people live in Jharkhand.
Further, he mentioned that freedom fighter Pandit Gopabandhu Das conducted a massive outreach in the Saraikela -Kharsawan and Singhbhum areas and as a result, more than 300 Odia schools were set up during 1913-1948. During the formation of Jharkhand, it was ensured that the newly formed state shall recognise Odia speaking people as linguistic minorities and shall preserve their rights. The government of Jharkhand recognised Odia along with five other regional languages as the state's second official language.
However, several flaws have been detected in following the rules stated in the new Education Policy, 2020.
Pradhan has urged the Jharkhand CM to personally intervene in the matter and secure Odia language education in Jharkhand for its Odia speaking population by addressing the issues.