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Bhasha Institute Tejgarh

Thanks to ruby's relentless efforts(email chain spread over two months) we finally managed dates with Bhasha Institute

What is this Institute?

Ganesh N Devy setup the institute with the idea to provide tribal communities space where their art, culture, learning, knowledge of their environment could be celebrated, curated and preserved. It is located near the village of tejgarh, Vadodra, Gujrat. At the moment the administration and all operations are carried out by local people and for the local people.

What's the need?

Read and watch this piece on PARI about "tribal girls sing English songs in a village that doesn't speak English, in honor of the potato that they don't eat.". It very accurately depicts the broken education system. Founders and supporters of Bhasha recognized this issue from the start and focused on introducing formal education while keeping it relevant to their local context. Enabling locals to take thing forward, finding people who understand the local issues and are motivated to take the charge to find a possible solution.

How are they doing it?

Bhasha has different "verticals" and they organize workshops regularly for all of them to keep evolving and adapting with exchange of skills between locals and visitors. There is tribal museum for curating local arts, library/publications to document, preserve and publish local knowledge, small medical team with both allopathy and homeopathy treatments available for locals, Shaala aka school which works as a support system to get kids ready for mainstream schooling. In shaala they take local students(aged 8 to 12), belonging to mix of tribes speaking different dialects/languages/bhasha. They have multi-lingual teaching system to get students at ease with different dialects/languages and also introduce formal Gujrati in process to enable kids to read and write. Eventually after 2 years with help from institute they are admitted to schools. Apart from language they also get taught local skills related to farming, folk songs, their own culture.

What was I doing there?

Ruby, Praful and sanket had first hand experience with tribal education at school running in Nelgunda by Hemalksha we had lot of questions on how things were managed and core idea behind institute. There were reflections/discussions in terms of what is different between tribals of different regions and how bhasha as institute is trying to stay relevant. As for me it was mostly observing, institute, activities going on in campus, how ruby, sanket and praful were interacting with local kids(they taught kids two lines from a madia folk song). I wasn't able to contribute back to the local community during this stay, but next time for sure I will.