Young students of different ethnic communities living in Chittagong Hill Tracts express their thoughts on international mother language day with New Age Youth
Department of English
University of Dhaka
MOTHER tongue is an integral source of a child’s overall communicative or innate development. Raft of languages had existed in this planet but unfortunately some of them went extinct and now roughly 6,500 languages (spoken or written) are thought to be at present. Like other south-east Asian countries, Bangladesh is a land of multi-ethnic language diversity of about 45 languages. Chakma, a language dominant in Eastern hilly part of Bangladesh, though has written symbols but rich in spoken. Until 2018, non- Bengali speaking school going children had to commence their primary education in Bengali language whereas they do not even have enough grasp over their first language. Now the ruling government with some NGOs is taking measures to introduce curriculum at primary level that accommodates languages of diverse ethnicities. This primary step for strengthening minority indigenous languages is truly commendable but a reasonable effectiveness would only be possible through the overall necessary establishments at field level. For further enrichment, the authority should form an executive cell appointing experts of respective languages, who will be assigned to monitor the core objectives of language diversity. We must respect other languages around the world to satisfy the golden souls of our language martyrs because to let a language die, is a great loss of a human’s intellectual property. Therefore, let’s save the languages.
Reng Young Mro
Department of Bangla
THERE are many of us from the Bengali medium education who probably had to memorise the phrase, ‘Bangla is our mother tongue’ despite the fact that our mother tongue actually is not Bangla. When I was in college, once we had an argument on what should be our mother tongue. To be sure of the right answer, I went ahead to ask the question to our Bangla teacher during the class break. The answer she gave broke my heart and I couldn’t bring myself together to listen to any of her reasoning afterwards. Her answer was that our mother tongue is Bengali, even if our mothers speak different languages. To grow up with the confusion about your own mother tongue is inexplicably suffocating. Most of the students who speak indigenous languages are somewhat suffering from this feeling. For various reasons, the future of these indigenous languages is at stake and the brink of extinction in near future. The initiative by the government of introducing five indigenous languages at the primary level, however, is fascinating and the implementation of this program needs to happen soon with the inclusion of rest of the indigenous languages. But the problem is that the measures needed to keep the program running are not being taken. These noble initiatives are helplessly drooping against the limitations such as the lack of teachers. All of us must come forward with good intentions if we are to overcome this crisis. The concerned authorities must consider the individuality and culture of the indigenous people as they make the curriculum. A person’s thoughts, philosophy, values and even that person’s existence can get lost in oblivion if his/her language gets lost. But if reading literature and publishing books in their own language get promoted, then, the horizon of indigenous language will only broaden.
21st February stands for the recognition and respect that every language in the world deserves.
Department of criminology
University of Dhaka
DESPITE being able to talk in different languages, people only find self-contentment in their own mother tongue. Bengalis put forth a great example in front of the world by sacrificing their lives defending their language. Like Bangla speaking people, I also love my language. My ethnicity is Mro and Mro is my mother tongue, Mro is my individuality and Mro is my pride. I find immense satisfaction in being able to freely express my thoughts in my mother tongue and the feeling isn’t superficial. But unfortunately, even to this day, I am made a joke out of whenever majority Bangla speaking people hear me communicating through my mother tongue. Is this what the language martyrs sacrificed their lives for? Because of the ever increasing pressure from various cultural and socio-economic forces, today, different indigenous languages like mine are on the verge of extinction. I hope that we are able to build a society where people not only adore their own language but also respect others’. May every nation’s language become able to hold their heads high with all its uniqueness.
Department of journalism and media
MATRIVASHA or mother tongue, the word is more deeply felt than it is pleasing to hear. Children keep growing up amidst the language that their mothers speak. They just hear the language and also speak it, but when they are finally able to think, they realise that the language they speak is their mother tongue. Some of us speak different languages, but the mother tongue of our country is Bangla. That’s where the dilemma lies and it starts from the day when we go to school. There’s always this question lingering inside our minds, ‘which one is our mother tongue’? We start to forget that we have a language and an identity of our own. A different language is imposed indirectly upon us. Tanchagya is my mother tongue and as depressing as it sounds, the people of our country are not even aware of its existence. In such case, not only the personal drive and indigenous culture organisations but also initiative from the government is crucial, especially the ministry of culture. Surveys should be regularly conducted in the rural areas to analyse their situations and take proper measures accordingly. In the end, the most important factor for bringing a change is good intentions. If the government does not treat the issue with enough seriousness, then mother tongues of indigenous people will stand at a perilous situation in the near future.
Department of archeolog
THERE are people in different areas speaking different languages due to the existence of many different races and ethnicities. Every language reflects its own culture and history. We are being taught that Bangla is our mother tongue since childhood but the reality is that as a Pangkhua, I have a different language that reflects my distinct ancestral culture. Therefore, my mother tongue is Pangkhua and we are one among many other indigenous communities. We are made to isolate ourselves from our own mother tongue since childhood through our education system. In recent times, some indigenous languages have found their way to the curriculum, but not ours, at least not yet. Therefore, there is an ever increasing disinterest for the Pankhua language and if effective measures aren’t taken, our language will also be one among the lost ones.
Department of urban and regional planning
APART from the people of CHT, mainstream Bengali people have very little to no idea about our community — Bawm. Lack of education and awareness are two major reasons behind this. More than 90 per cent people of our small community are not familiar with formal education. Schools in deep CHT have very minimal facilities leaving the younger generation without easy access such education and resulting into more lack of awareness. Even in these days, many people there do not have electricity and education is certainly a luxury for them. In this scenario, awareness and changes are far cry for our community.
On the note of international mother language day, I want to say that ensuring education in mother tongue should be the most essential focus of the authority. In our case, like other communities of CHT, there is no chance to be educated or even start formal education in mother tongue leaving a huge communication gap unattended.
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