June 5, 2023

 Abir Hasan Sujan: Aboriginal peoples are the first settlers or original inhabitants of many countries.  About 300 million indigenous people live in 70 countries on 5 continents of the world.  A majority of about 150 million Aboriginal people live in various countries of the Asian continent..

The history of our language movement has spread all over the world today.  But the sad thing is that in this country of language movement, tribal children are deprived of education in their mother tongue.  It is like darkness under a candle.

In the 40th session of the International Labor Organization on June 5, 1957, Convention No. 107 laid down some principles regarding indigenous and tribal languages. Article 23(1) of the said Convention states, ‘The children of the population concerned shall be taught to read and write in their mother tongue.  , or where this is not possible, they shall be taught in the language commonly used among their cohorts.” Again Article 23(2) states, ‘Provision shall be made for the gradual transition from the mother tongue or the indigenous language to the national language or an official language of the country.

Moreover, Article 30 of the ‘International Child Rights Charter signed by the Government of Bangladesh mentions that in countries where there are ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or people from indigenous communities, such minority or indigenous members of his community.

But most of the languages of these indigenous tribes of Bangladesh do not have their own scripts.  Chakma, Marma, Tanchangya, Mro, Rakhine etc languages are written in their own script.  Some languages are written in Roman script including Kokborok, Bom, Lusai, Pankhwa, Garo.  A few languages including Sadri, Bishnupriya Manipuri are written in Bengali.  Among the script debates is the language of the Santals.

But with the evolution of time, the development and development of the indigenous language has not been possible.  So many languages lose their own form and charm after coming in contact with different languages and cultures.  Many ethnic groups have lost their languages due to lack of adoption and interaction in the course of normal development.

There are about 50 tribal communities in Bangladesh.  Their number is 3 million.  There are a total 33 indigenous languages in this country.  There are seven alphabets in it.  Due to the lack of an education system in their mother tongue, tribal children are forced to go to school to study in Bengali language. Due to the lack of an education system in their own language, the dropout rate of tribal children from school is very high.  An indigenous child cannot and will not find his identity when he goes to school and learns another language.

All ethnic groups should get education in their mother tongue, it is desired by all.  But for this, necessary steps must be taken.  The tribal population should not only be given books in their mother tongue but also trained teachers.  Because if the teacher in the class is not able to teach the children properly in their mother tongue, then all the efforts will be in vain. I don’t want anyone to slander the tribal children as ‘backward’.  I want the tribal children in this country, which is proud to sustain the mother tongue Bengali with blood, to get education in their familiar mother tongue.

The main characteristic element of the identity of every community is its mother tongue.  It is expected that along with the state single language and culture of the majority population in Bangladesh, the multi-language and culture of the indigenous people will be started. Therefore, all the laws, declarations, documents etc. of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh government should be published in the language of the indigenous people of Chittagong Hill Tracts and all agreements, laws and documents of Chittagong Hill Tracts.  Initiatives should be taken to express it in indigenous languages.

Arrangements should be made so that everyone can speak in their own mother tongue and translate them through an interpreter in various meetings of the hill district council and regional council. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts Office Court, conducting the work in the language of the tribals, translation should be arranged if necessary.  Once lost it never comes back.  As a result, people or civilization will lose its diversity.  A country will be deprived of its cultural diversity and richness.  It is not desirable.  The government should set up separate language academies to protect indigenous languages at the earliest.  To protect the diversity by employing indigenous scholars and providing opportunities for research on the language-diversity and culture of different ethnic groups.

 

Author: Abir Hasan Sujan is the President of Jagannath University Feature Columns and Content Writers. He can be reached at abirsuzon4@gmail.com

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