In a recent session of the state assembly, the sensitive issue of minority tribal languages took center stage. Chief Minister Dr. Manik Saha, who also serves as the Minister for Education, personally responded to a series of questions on the matter. The chief minister informed the assembly that minority languages such as ‘Kokborok’, ‘Chakma’, ‘Halam’, ‘Mog’, ‘Garo’, ‘Kuki’, ‘Mizo’, ‘Manipuri’, and ‘Vishnupriya Manipuri’ are taught in schools across the state up to the eighth grade.
The chief minister’s response was prompted by a query from BJP MLA Pramod Reang regarding whether the state government planned to introduce the Reang language or ‘Kai Bru’ at the school level. Dr. Saha explained that, in addition to ‘Kokborok’, seven other minority languages are taught as separate subjects in schools for minority tribal students. The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) prepares textbooks in these minority languages, which are then distributed to students up to the eighth grade. Furthermore, textbooks for ‘Kokborok’, ‘Kuki’, and ‘Mizo’ languages are provided free of cost to students up to the twelfth grade by the respective language departments.
Highlighting the linguistic diversity within the ‘Kokborok’ language, the chief minister stated that there are nine languages considered dialects of ‘Kokborok’. The language department has already published a multilingual dictionary to aid students in their studies.
Regarding the inclusion of the ‘Kai Bru’ or Reang language as a separate subject, the chief minister explained that since it is considered a dialect of ‘Kokborok’, there are no immediate plans to introduce it as a distinct language. However, a committee formed by the language section of the education department is currently examining the matter and is expected to submit a report in due course.
The state government’s efforts to promote minority tribal languages in schools are evident through the provision of dedicated textbooks and the teaching of these languages as separate subjects. By recognizing the linguistic diversity and catering to the educational needs of minority tribal students, the government aims to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage embedded within these languages.