Shiksha Sathis in interior Kandhamal schools

Berhampur: In a bid to enhance the retention rate of tribal students in primary classes, `Shiksha Sathis` will be appointed in schoos in interior parts of Kandhamal district. Youths educated upto middle school (Class VIII) and fluent in tribal Kue and Odia language would be appointed as Shiksha Sathis by the school management committee for a period of 10 months in a year with a montly honorarium of Rs 1,000.

The expenses for the initiative will be borne from the funds of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), said a senior government officer. The district administration has shortlisted 186 schools initially, mostly in Baliguda and Phulbani blocks, where the `siksha sathis` will be appointed, said sources.

Besides teaching children of Class I and II, the `shiksha sathis` will act as interpreter between students and teachers of the schools, District Collector Rajesh Prabhakar Patil. Kue is the mother tongue of the tribals, mostly Kandhas, a primitive tribal community in the district.

Though the government has introduced the tribal language as a medium of education in district schools and appointed trained teachers in 60 schools to teach in Kue, in most of the 1,761 primary schools in Kandhamal there are no trained teachers to teach the tribal language, sources said.

Language barrier is one of the main reasons of students often skipping classes. Like the `gram sathi` who looks after the successful implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in villages, the shiksha sathi will be tasked with looking after the functioning of the school and apprise the administration about the problems of the school.

"The `shiksha sathi` will track the students and mobilise them and their parents. They will motivate students to attend school", said Project Coordinator of District Primary Education Project (DPEP) Atulya Champatray. The process of selection of `shiksha sathis` in various villages under the school management committee is on. "The process of their appointment will be completed soon", Champatray said.