Speakers at a seminar yesterday said small ethnic groups are still lagging behind as the government is yet to take adequate measures to protect their rights and cultures.
They urged the government to introduce an ethnic minority-friendly public policy to facilitate their integration.
They made the call at a seminar on “Importance and Challenges of Protecting Heritage of Small Ethnic Groups in Promoting National Culture” organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) at its auditorium in Eskaton.
Presenting a keynote paper, eminent historian Prof Syed Anwar Husain said many languages of small ethnic groups have already become extinct and the languages that still exist are struggling for survival.
“These languages must be included in primary education and the government should introduce a national language policy or take initiatives under the supervision of International Mother Language Institute for protecting linguistic diversity,” he said.
Prof Anwar, also the Bangabandhu Chair of Bangladesh University of Professionals, said the participation of ethnic groups in state programmes should be increased and government should also recognise their various traditional festivals for fostering national solidarity.
He claimed that there is lack of communal harmony in the country as a particular group “still opposes celebration of Mangal Shobhajatra”.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid said cultural exchange and cooperation can strengthen communal harmony between Bengalis and small ethnic groups.
He said the current government has been working to realise the CHT Peace Accord and has planned to establish cultural centres in three hill tracts districts [Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban].
“Government allowance will also be provided to disadvantaged artistes of ethnic groups,” he added.
Major General AKM Abdur Rahman, director general of BIISS, said the active participation of small ethnic groups with their creative ideas and knowledge is important for the successful implementation of Vision 2021.
He said understanding cultural diversity would help the country to prevent ethnic divisions.