Himansu Shekhar Rout

The Odisha government is organising the World Odia Language Conference in Bhubaneswar and reportedly spent Rs 100 crore for the event. Paradoxically, most schools and colleges in the state do not have an adequate number of teachers to teach the language. The government’s flaunted love for the Odia language stands in sharp contrast with the ground realities. 

Opposition parties criticised the government for the 'high-expenditure' conference and questioned its sincerity in promoting the Odia language. 

OTV tried to check the ground realities in some areas vis-à-vis the government’s recent promotional overdrive. Ichhapur Upper Primary School with classes from I to X under the Jharigaon block of Nabarangpur does not have a teacher for Odia language. The Class-X students will appear for the matric exam shortly without any teaching on the Odia language subject. 

A similar situation can be witnessed at Srimardaraj High School in Khallikote. No teacher has been appointed for the Odia language while teachers of other subjects teach the language. Students and teachers observed that had the school had Odia language teachers, students would have greatly benefitted.

Surendranath Ucha Baisayika Sikhyanustan in Jaleswar of Balasore is struggling with only a single Odia language lecturer to manage things. 

Kaibalya Majhi, a student of Jharigaon lamented.”As we have no Odia language teacher, we can’t do well in the subject. We fail to understand the subject.”

Lucky Patra, a girl student from Khallikote, said that her school has no Odia language teacher. “If one teacher is appointed, we can make progress in the language,” she observed.

Abhilipsa Dash of Surendranath Ucha Baisayika Sikhyanustan said, "We have only one Odia lecturer. The teaching of the language subject has been affected.”

Also Read: Three-day World Odia Language Conference kicks off in Bhubaneswar

As per reports, 10,000 teacher posts are lying vacant in 8,089 high schools in Odisha. Surprisingly, two universities have Odia departments plagued by staff shortages. 

In Kalahandi University, the posts of seven professors and assistant professors for Odia are lying vacant. Similarly, two posts of professor and two associate professors for Odia are lying vacant in Ravenshaw University     

On the other hand, the state government has provided Rs 20,000 to each panchayat, and Rs 50,000 to each block to organize competitions at schools and colleges as part of publicity for the World Odia Language Conference. 

Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) leader Suryavanshi Suraj said, "Posts of Odia teachers and lecturers are vacant on a large scale in schools and colleges. All know about it. By organizing big events, you cannot save the Odia language. It was unfortunate to mispronounce Kantakabi as kanthakabi.” 

Culture Minister Aswini Patra observed, “It was the first ever World Odia Language Conference in the state. It does not matter who comments about the event. People know what we are doing. People appreciate our efforts.”