Journy through Bangldesh
Indigenous Children in Modhupur
The writer while visiting the Modhupur region found most of the indigenous Garo children unable to speak in their mother language. Although some of the children when they heard their mother language from their parents at their own houses could understand a little, they could not answer or respond to what they heard in their mother language. .
According to some leaders of different indigenous organisations in Modhupur, at least 1,25,000 indigenous Garo people live in the country. Of them, about 25,000 live in the Modhupur region.
Ajoy-a-Mre, President of the Joyenshahi Indigenous Development Parishad, said about this matter, “The Garo children are required to study in Bangla from the primary level since Bangla is the medium of instruction in the schools. On the other hand, use of mother language among the Garo people is reducing day by day as they have to use Bangla and English languages in their work places.”
The indigenous Garo people in the country including Modhupur region under Tangail and Mymensingh districts are thus being deprived of their fundamental right of getting education in their mother language. Although some indigenous and non-governmental organisations (NGO) have taken steps to educate 2 or 3 indigenous community children in their mother language, the indigenous Garo children in Modhupur region are yet to get education in their mother language due to lack of government
Patronisation. "According to the United Nation's (UN) declaration, people of all communities of the world have the right to get educated in their own languages. Bangladesh has also signed the declaration. A bill was also passed in the Parliament in 1997, but it has not yet been implemented", Ajoy-a-Mre added.
It should be mentioned here that the mother language of the indigenous Garo people 'Achik' has no alphabet. It is gathered that the dictionary of the 'Achik' alphabet was lost when the Garo people were coming to the Indo-Pak subcontinent leaving the famine ravaged Tibet. The 'Achik' alphabet had been lost for ever as the senior Garo people had died in several wars trying to establish themselves in different parts in the subcontinent. Thus, because the 'Achik' alphabet was lost, debates with regard to the alphabet for educating the Garo children in their mother language have risen.
Some of the indigenous leaders expressed their feelings about this matter in the following manner, “It is not a problem that the 'Achik' language has no alphabet as the Garo people of Meghaloy in India are being educated in 'Achik' language by using Roman alphabet. Besides, the Garo people in Tripura State in India are being educated by using 'Tripuri' alphabet.”
"Which alphabet should be used in teaching the Garo children through 'Achik' language in Bangladesh may be decided by discussing the matter with the indigenous Garo leaders.”
Shanti Sangma, an indigenous women's leader in Modhupur,said that they always converse with their children in 'Achik' language at their homes for saving their mother language. But it has failed to achieve any positive result as 'Achik' is constantly being mixed with Bangla. Samoren Chichim, an indigenous teacher in Modhupur, while talking to this writer said, "If the mother language of the Garo people 'Achik' is not started at the primary level of education, it will gradually be lost to the new generations of Garos.”
Professor Babul De Nokrek, President of the Adhima Garo Youth Association, said while talking to this writer, “We need government patronization to save the 'Achik' language.” He then added, "A garden gets rich with many kinds of flowers. In the same way, the culture of a nation gets enriched with the flowering of the many Languages.”
(R) thedailystar.net 2006