New directorate to save dying languages

In a move to protect and develop Kok Borok, the language spoken by majority tribals of the state and other dying languages of various ethnic groups the Tripura government has decided to create a separate directorate. The tribal language cell attached to the education department will now converted into a full fledged directorate in the name and style of the Kok Borok and Minority Language Department which will start functioning from August 14.
Tribals, constitute 31 per cent of the states total population, are divided in 19 distinct tribes and many sub-tribes who also have separate language or dialects. Each of them have separate literature mostly in oral form and most of them are in dying condition now. Some of these groups are very small like Uchais whose total number is less then one hundred but having a distinct culture.
‘Whatever small may be the number of the people spoken the language, our aim is to protect each of the language and necessary government patronage will be provided’, said chief minister Manik Sarkar after announcing the formation of the directorate.
Kok Borok, the language spoken by the majority Tripuries were awarded recognition of the second state language with the Bengali as the first in 1979 and lot of initiative has been taken for its development. At present more than one hundred books are being published in Kok Borok every year but its expected development has been truncated due to a controversy about the script. While the Left Front government is in favour of Bengali script a good section of tribal believed to be backed by the Church and the only regional party of the state the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura wants Roman script as the medium of instruction.
Despite this controversy the Kok Borok is being taught in 943 schools located in tribal dominated areas in Bengali script. In addition Halam-Kuki in 49 schools and Chakma in 58 schools are being taught up to class five standards. Two other minority languages the Manipuri and the Bishnupriya Manipuri are also being taught in 36 and 49 schools respectively.
The first task entrusted to the directorate is to start teaching Chakma, now taught in Bengali script, in its own script. The decision was taken after it was found that the language has its own script and that is being used in Mizoram and in Chittagong Hill tracts of Bangladesh.

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