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Observance of National Education Day PCP demand primary education in Mother tongues

17 Sep 05

The Pahari Chattra Prishad (Hill Student’s Council), a front organisaiton of the United People’s Democratic Front, held a procession today in Khagrachari in observance of the National Education Day. Over one thousand students, a large section of them high school boys and girls in their school uniforms, took part in the procession that started at 1:30 p.m.

The police intercepted the procession at Chengi Square and refused to allow it to march up to Shapla Chattar at Khagrachari bazaar, where the organisers had planned to hold a rally. As the police was adamant not to allow the rally to proceed further, a brief scuffle ensued between the police and the students. Later the processionists sat down on the road and held a protest meeting.

In protest against undemocratic behaviour of the police, the PCP leaders called student strike for tomorrow, 18 September.

In a leaflet issued on the occasion of the Education Day, the PCP put forward a set of demands, which include right to education up to primary level in the mother languages of the national minorities, expunge of passages derogatory towards national minorities from school and college text books, inclusion of the history of the Pahari nationalities and their past heroic struggles in the school and college text books in correct perspectives, inclusion of a chapter on the identity of all national minorities of the country in national curricula and introduction of a special quota system for the Pahari students in respect of education and employment.

The leaflet states “Bengalees are the only people in the whole world who had to shed bloods for the establishment of their right to mother tongue. On 21st February 1952 Salam, Rafiq and Barkat sacrificed their lives for the right to mother language. Their sacrifice was not only for Bangla, but for the right to mother tongue. In appreciation of this noble sacrifice of the Beganli people, UNESCO in 1999 declared 21 February as International Mother Language Day. Every citizen of Bangladesh should take pride in this honour. But ironically, all other languages other than Bangla are neglected and even looked down upon in multi-national multi-lingual Bangladesh state. No government has so far taken any steps to preserve, promote and enrich the languages of the national minorities.”

The leaflet also states that on 11 September 2002 the PCP submitted a memo to the Deputy Minister of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs demanding right to education up to primary level in the mother languages of the national minorities. This was followed up by submitting another memo to the Education Minister Dr. Osman Faruk on 16 September 2002.

The PCP leaders also submitted memo to the Prime Minister on 19 February 2003 and the Prime Minister’s office in a letter dated 27 February assured the PCP leaders of taking necessary steps to implement the demands. But so far the promise has not been lived up to, the leaflet alleges.

Besides submitting memo, the PCP also took up various programmes to drum up support for their demands. These include securing press statement from the national progressive student bodies and prominent intellectuals and writers of the country in support of their just demands, rallies and processions in Dhaka, Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts, token hunger strike and human chain in Dhaka.

Source: UPDF



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