Odia Community Leaders Met CM Hemant Soren, Asked to Rollback Exclusion of Odia Language

RANCHI: A delegation of Odia community leaders met Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren and asked him to roll back the decision to exclude Odia as a regional language for the primary teacher training course.

The delegation under the aegis of Odia Bhasa Bikash Parishad (language development council) was led by a member of the Seraikela royal family, Aditya Pratap Singhdeo, and accompanied by Chakradharpur JMM legislator Sukhram Oraon.

“There are over 14 lakh Odia speaking people in Jharkhand. We expressed our consternation at the recent decision of the Jharkhand Academic Council in its advertisement published in September on the primary teacher training exam in which Odia language has been excluded from the seventh paper (regional languages).

We strongly demanded that the decision should be rolled back,” said Saroj Pradhan, president of the West Singhbhum unit of the Parishad. It also demands to include the appointment of Odia teachers in all Odia medium schools of Jharkhand (most of which have been merged with Hindi medium schools), providing Odia subject textbooks for Classes I to X in Odia medium schools and payment of honorarium to over 150 teachers appointed for the education of Odia language by the Utkal Sammelani (a socio-cultural organisation of Odisha).

“We also expressed concern before the chief minister on the posting of Odia teachers in Hindi medium schools by the education department,” said Pradhan.

Members of the delegation claimed that the chief minister gave them a patient hearing and assured them that their complaints would be discussed with officials concerned and their problems would be resolved soon.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the ruling party in Odisha, BJP and the Congress have already started exerting pressure on the Jharkhand government to roll back the decision.

Even Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, had written to the Jharkhand chief minister in this connection.

Pradhan had written to Soren on October 1 seeking intervention into the issue of non-supply of Odia textbooks to Odia students and appointment of Hindi-speaking teachers in Odia medium schools in bordering villages and “securing” Odia language education for its Odia speaking population.

Odisha school and mass education minister and senior BJD leader S.R. Dash in a letter to his Jharkhand counterpart Jagarnath Mahato earlier this month had said that exclusion of Odia language from the teacher training course by the Jharkhand government has created an “atmosphere of dissent, distrust and discomfort fanning controversies among the Odia speaking people in Jharkhand and border districts”.

Dash urged Mahato not to exclude Odia language from the curriculum of the teacher training course meant for primary teachers in the neighbouring state.

The advertisement published by the Jharkhand Academic Council on September 20 for primary teacher training exam had excluded Odia language from the seventh paper while languages like Sanskrit, Bengali, Urdu, Ho, Mundari, Sanathali and Kudmali were included.