Issue: 07 ::01 October 2006

subscribe :: unsubscribe   

CCD Activities:

Dialogue on Community Journalism

95% Indigenous People Deprived of Education in Northern Region

Pabna, September 27: 

95% of the indigenous people living in the northern region are deprived of education and lack of education is the main cause of their poverty and backwardness.

It was opined in the dialogue on Role of Journalists in Raising Indigenous People’s Voice held at the District Council Auditorium in Pabna today. With the support of WACC, mass communication oriented development organization CCD Bangladesh organized this dialogue. Speakers also said, there prevails a negative attitude to the children of the indigenous people in the educational institutions and they are discouraged at education there. Actually, due to poverty and social negligence towards them, 95% of the indigenous children are dropout from education. Consequently, literacy rate is not increasing among them. Though some development organizations have taken initiative to educate them in their own language, it is yet to be satisfactory in this region. Speakers, therefore, stressed on educating them for socio-economic development of the backward saontal and other aboriginal communities.

The problems and potential of the indigenous people living in Pabna in respect to their economy, education, culture, politics and environment and the role of journalists to uphold these issues were chalked out in the dialogue.

Assistant Professor of Mass Communication Department of Rajshahi University Dulal Chandra Biswas facilitated the dialogue. Director of CCD Bangladesh G M Mourtoza, Regional Coordinator in Pabna Faruk Hossain Chowdhury and Program Coordinator A H M Abdul Hai presented welcome address. Representatives of local and national newspapers and delegates from indigenous communities and NGOs working for the welfare of the indigenous people actively took part in the dialogue.


Mother Tongue at Stake!

Mustafa Zaman:

Twenty years ago Menlay Murang, a Mro by descent, introduced a new religion. He called his faith Crama. According to Shourav Sikder, an assistant professor of Linguistics in Dhaka University who conducted an extensive research on the languages of the indigenous people living in Bangladesh, the new faith emerged by compounding Christian beliefs with the existing animistic practices of the Mro people. Menlay's vision was not confined to the spread of his religion. He created the opportunity to make his people literate in their mother tongue. He is the man who has given his own people Mro alphabets.

Menlay established a learning centre in his own village in 1986, which he called Mro Cha Sangra, meaning Mro learning centre. It was later destroyed in the devastating cyclone of 1991, and Menlay could not rebuild his school. So, he failed to continue his effort thereafter.

Among the fifty indigenous groups of people that inhabit Bangladesh Mros have had better luck in ensuring education of their offspring in their own language. They have text books up to class three in Mro. It is an achievement that many other Adivasi groups would be envious of.

Many of these Mro text books emphasise the fact that the Mro alphabet originally stemmed from Roman, Burmese, and Sino sources. It also acknowledges the debt to a Mro named Menrum Mro who invented a Mro font in 1996 called Rien. The books, brought out by a committee on behalf of the Mro community with the help of Gonoshastho Kendra, are written in the alphabets invented by the Menlay.

"The proposition to provide education to all the indigenous groups in their own language is almost an impossible one at present, as most do not have their own written script. Those who don't have alphabets of their own are also divided over whether to adopt Roman or Bangla script when it comes to forging a written form of their own language," says Sikder. He speaks of a similar divide among the Santals. "Among them the ones who converted to Christianity prefer Roman alphabet to the Bangla script. The rest are willing to adopt Bangla alphabets in written expression of Santali, their language," Sikder clarifies.

Read more at 

[This e-bulletin has been prepared and published with the assistance of WACC]

Contact: CCD Bangladesh, Monafer Morh, Raninagar, Rajshahi-6204, Bangladesh

Tel: +880 721 751001, Fax: +880 721 751001, Hotline: +880 156 317450, Email:

Copyright © 2006 CCD Bangladesh, Developed by Anisul Ashekeen, Information Management Officer, CCD Bangladesh