Learning to Read and Reading to Learn
Language is a social phenomenon best learned through social interaction. Our language bears the mark of our culture and society. In Tripura however, language has proved to be more of an impediment to learning. Many children, with little exposure to Bengali have to start with a new language and it becomes an additional burden to them. In Kokborok medium schools, children do not get exposure to different kinds of reading materials because there is hardly anything available for young learners other than the textbooks. As Language is the basis of all learning, lack of proficiency in language leads to low achievements in other subject areas, particularly where the home language of children is different from the official medium of instruction. Vikramshila with support from the Tata Trusts launched the Reading Improvement Programme in Tripura. Through this project we tried to understand the problems and seek possible solutions for children growing up in a Multi-lingual situation. The pilot started from 2015 in the district of Khowai in Tripura where children are usually from Kokborok speaking tribal families. Reading Improvement Programme – Khowai, Tripura Tripura has a high population of ethnic groups which consists of 19 tribes and many sub-tribes. Tulashikhar, our project area, is a tribal dominated block where most of the inhabitants speak Kokborok, a language that belongs to a different family and has no lexical resemblance with Bengali, the official medium of instruction of all government-run schools. Due to lack of an effective transition policy from Kokborok to Bengali, there is a huge learning gap among the children. Thus, in Tulashikhar, our main aim is to use Kokborok as a scaffold to slowly introduce Bengali as a medium of instruction. The project aimed to improve the learning levels of children in classes 1 to 8, to achieve grade-appropriate competencies in all the schools of Tulashikhar block in Khowai.