Indigenous children lack access to education | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 27, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 27, 2010

Indigenous children lack access to education

Primary edn in mother language stressed

Most of the indigenous children do not have access to education, as the government is yet to introduce primary education in their mother tongues.
Although the final draft of the National Education Policy 2009 calls for steps to ensure education of the indigenous people in their mother tongues, the government does not have any specific action plan yet for its implementation.
The dropout rate among the indigenous students at the primary level is 50 percent and 33 percent of these cases occur due to language barriers, said a study conducted by Research and Development Collective (RDC).
Among the 2.5 million indigenous people in the country, only 2.3 percent complete higher secondary level while a paltry 11 percent complete secondary education, showed the study.
Researchers have also said that at least seven out of the existing 30 indigenous languages run the risk of extinction due to lack of facilities to practice the languages.
The second Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP-II) included an analysis of the country's overall primary education scenario and set some strategies and action plans for the children of ethnic community.
The PEDP-II focused on four main areas, which include lack of access, poor quality, cultural inappropriateness and lack of local control and involvement; and language was considered as the key factor.
Indigenous leader Sanjeeb Drong said at least 20 out of the 45 ethnic communities can be taught in their mother tongues as the government is capable of running individual schools for them.
The government can commence the process by appointing teachers from their respective communities in government primary schools to provide the indigenous children with bilingual education.
As there has been no comprehensive move, the government has to have extensive dialogues with the indigenous people for understanding their requirements, he added.
The government has to finalise the National Education Policy and implement it immediately to meet the diverse needs of the country's education sector, said Rasheda K Chowdhury, former adviser to a caretaker government.
Different non-government organisations have been working to provide the indigenous children with pre-primary and primary education in their mother tongues, she said, adding that the government should cash in on the work experience of the NGOs and devise a comprehensive strategy in this regard.
Abu Alam Mohammad Shahid Khan, secretary-in-charge to the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, told this correspondent that they are planning to train the teachers to provide the indigenous children with education in their mother tongue and launching books to guide the students under the national curriculum.
It is a matter of regret that in a country where people had sacrificed their lives for the mother tongue, languages are on the verge of extinction since people do not have access to education in their mother tongues, said educationist Prof Mesbah Kamal.
However, the experience of different non-government organisations shows that it does not require much effort to ensure the long-standing demand but simply the will of the government.
Brac is running 2015 schools across the country to teach the indigenous children in their native languages where the students are supplied the reading materials by the schools themselves.
District Primary Education Officers (DPEO) in Bandarban and Khagrachhari told this correspondent about the schools run by different NGOs but they could not mention of any specific initiative taken by the government.

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