The government’s decision in 2017 to publish and distribute textbooks in five ethnic languages - and its decision that ethnic minority pupils would learn exclusively in their mother tongue from pre-primary level up to grade II (and gradually learn Bengali at from class III) – have been well received. advocates as a long overdue reform in the education sector. It was hoped then that this would bring us closer to our vision of an inclusive Bangladesh, with equal rights and privileges shared by all communities. However, five years later, it seems that the project is falling through due to lack of administrative initiatives.
As this daily reported on February 1, 2022, students in many schools in the Sreemangal upazila, the majority of which belong to indigenous communities, are taught in Bangla because they never get enough books in school. ‘other languages. A principal claimed that in 2021 he had only received teacher copies of two textbooks to teach students in the Tripura community. In 2022, they received none.
More worryingly, teachers in areas with large indigenous populations are not well enough trained to teach children to read and write in their respective mother tongues. A 2020 report indicates that, since 2017, only 38.6% of the 4,204 teachers from ethnic communities in the three hill districts had completed a 14-day training program on indigenous languages. This raises the question: what is the point of having textbooks in ethnic languages if they do not reach their recipients? Even if or when these books are made available, how can a teacher be expected to properly educate students if they themselves have not been trained to do so? And what are the higher authorities doing about it? Not much, according to the conclusion of our report. Surely this was a plan to be followed for years, and not just a “show of inclusivity”?
We believe the government needs to re-evaluate its plan for Indigenous textbooks to make it effective. Teachers should receive extensive training in reading, writing and using these languages which they can pass on to their students. Textbooks in indigenous languages must also be distributed for all subjects, and in the quantities required, as a priority. The government must follow through on its own plan so that children from ethnic communities are not deprived of the opportunity to study in their own language.