Indian tribal children ready to work in the fields. There were 16 million tribal 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 tribal children is considered important, not only because of the Constitutional obligation but also as a crucial input for total development of tribal communities. The Indian Constitution assigns special status to the Scheduled Tribes. Traditionally referred to as adivasis, vanbasis, tribes, or tribals, Scheduled Tribes constitute about 8% of the Indian population. There are 573 Scheduled Tribes living in different parts of the country, having their own languages, which are different from the one mostly spoken in the State where they live. There are more than 270 such languages in India. According to the 2001 census, the tribal population in India is 74.6 million. The largest number of tribals is in undivided Madhya Pradesh (16.40 million), followed by Orissa (7 million) and Jharkhand (6.6 million).

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