Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Caritas Bangladesh plans to protect Bangladesh's many tribal languages through a programme called Aloghar (lighthouse) that entails the publication of Multilingual Education (MLE) primers for pre-school and schoolchildren from tribal communities.
The project was presented at a ceremony last Tuesday in Dhaka, in the presence of Education Minister Mostafizur Rahman.
"Every language is important," the minister said. "No one should feel left out or ignored because he is part of a minority ethnic group."
The Aloghar programme includes eight primers in as many tribal languages for both kindergarten and elementary school levels.
"Education is a right," said Caritas Bangladesh executive director Benedict Alo D' Rozario. "Studying in one's mother tongue is also a right."
"Bangladesh is a country where, apart from the Bengali, other languages are spoken by small groups," said Welfare Minister Promod Mankin, a Catholic. "But they too are part of our nation, and this [programme] will enhance their attractiveness."
Bengali (Bangla) is the country's official language and the language of most Bangladeshi (97.7 per cent).
According to Rasheda Choudhury, executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), "the programme will help [us] gain the trust of the people, reduce the number of students who drop out of school and enrich the national culture."
Caritas launched Aloghar in 2011 with the financial support of the European Union and Caritas France.
The project involves 1,005 schools in 104 upazila (counties) in Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Sylhet.
Through the programme, about 70,000 children get a basic education each year, with about 25,000 or 40 per cent from minority ethnic groups.
In addition to designing and distributing MLE materials, Aloghar helps the development of tribal groups through teacher training and local involvement.