Santal students’ wait to receive textbooks in their mother tongue for pre-primary education will likely go on for longer.
This year, students of five ethnic communities – Chakma, Marma, Garo, Tripura and Sadri – got books in their mother tongues. Their first graders will receive similar textbooks next year.
Narayan Chandra Saha, the chairman of National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB), blamed the delay on the Santals. “It is because of their non-cooperation,” he claimed.
He said they were yet to finalize the writing methods and alphabets for the Santal language. The NCTB has also not fixed the number of textbooks Santal students will get.
The government initially included Santals in a list along with the five communities for giving their children books in their native languages.
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According to Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, there are 45 ethnic groups in the country who make up about 1% of the population. Other estimates put the number at around 35. These groups are believed to use 26 distinct languages.
The Santal and other ethnic groups have long been calling for providing primary education to their children in their mother tongues.
According the Education Policy 2010, the government shall provide 100% textbooks in mother tongue to indigenous students for pre-primary and class-1 students.
The number will be gradually brought down from grade II onwards. Second graders, for example, will get 75% books in their mother tongues, while class III students will receive 50% books in native languages.
Class IV students, on the other hand, will be given 25% books in their languages. But from grade V onwards, there will be no more books in these languages.
Narayan said they distributed nearly 52,000 textbooks to pre-primary students of the minority tribal groups in 2017. He said the government would provide around 112,000 books to pre-primary and grade-I students from these ethnicities.
“The printing work is almost done. The textbooks will be provided to the school authorities shortly so that they can be distributed among the students during the textbook festival on January 1,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.