Teaching primary school level ethnic minority children in mother tongue did not yield expected results for the lack of government initiatives in developing books, training teachers and proper execution of classroom activities.
The community leaders, textbook writers, teachers and development workers in a webinar organised by Campaign for Popular Education on Thursday said that textbooks sometimes did not carry the correct meanings used by the ethnic minority groups.
Capacity of the teachers for teaching in languages of the ethnic minority groups using the existing textbooks was not developed, examinations were administered in Bangla and the whole learning process depends on the wish of the local education officials and teachers in absence of a clear guideline, they said.
They demanded formation of a multilingual cell in the directorate of primary education for coordinating with the primary education ministry, National Academy for Primary Education, National Curriculum and Textbook Board and local communities required for proper execution of learning of ethnic minority children in their mother tongue.
Following the advocacy of the development partners and NGOs, the government in 2013 initiated teaching ethnic minority groups in their mother tongues for enhanced understanding and to protect their languages.
In January 2020, the government distributed 2,76,748 textbooks from the pre-primary to class 3 in five ethnic languages — Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Garo and Sadri.
The government does not have the data related to the number of the ethnic minority groups and their population.
According to Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy’s 2018 survey, an estimated 50 ethnic groups were living in the country and their total population was 30 lakh.
Asha Prio, a textbook writer in ethnic language, at the webinar said that parents of the children considered those textbooks a kind of experiments, not as learning materials in the absence of assessment process.
‘Garo children face more difficulties compared with the Chittagong Hill Tracts children for inadequate number of schools, and teaching materials,’ said Badhon Areng, a Garo community leader.
Kahgrachari Hill District Council chairman Konghari Chowdhury demanded that the government should conduct an assessment of teaching at schools in multilingual languages.
CAMPE deputy director KM Enamul Hoque, who conducted the webinar, said that CAMPE would strengthen its advocacy at the policy level to improve the implementation of the multilingual education.
Primary education secretary Akram Al Hossain said that the ministry could not execute the plans for the closure of education institutions due to the COVID-19 outbreak.