India is the World’s largest democracy, yet over one-third of its population is unable to read and write. A disproportionate share of India’s illiterate population is confined to cover 130,000 tribal (Vanavasi) villages. Over ninety percent of India’s tribal citizens are unable to read. The future of 40 million children living in abject poverty is being stifled by a lack of educational opportunity. India must include the children of its most interior communities to progress. Literacy is the key to the true sustainable empowerment of India’s ignored tribal population.
There were 16 million ST children (10.87 million of 6-11 years and 5.12 million of 11-14 years) as of March 2001, out of the total child population in India of about 193 million in the age group of 6 to 14 years (Selected Educational Statistics – 2000-01, Government of India). Education of ST children is considered important, not only because of the Constitutional obligation but also as a crucial input for Total development of tribal communities.
The interventions being promoted in States includes- • Schools, education guarantee centres and alternative schools in tribal habitations for non-enrolled and drop-out children; • Textbooks in the mother tongue for children at the beginning of the primary education cycle, when they do not understand the regional language. Suitably adapted curriculum and the availability of locally relevant teaching and learning materials for tribal students