Panchthar, October 27
With the number of students declining, few schools are imparting education in mother tongues in the district.
The district had been the first in the entire country to run classes in Limbu language. But with the steady decline in students willing to sign up for vernacular language classes, schools where such classes are run has declined from 131 to 114 over the past five years.
Similarly, teaching of Rai Bantawa language has been limited to just two schools down from four in the past. There are two schools where Tamang language is taught, while Bhotiya language is taught in one school in the district now.
Education Development and Coordination Unit Panchthar chief Yugmani Sabehang attributed the decrease in schools running classes in mother tongues to the lack of interest in mother tongue among the new generation. “Besides the lack of interest, running classes in mother tongue has also been difficult due to scarcity of books and teachers,” he said.
Language Commission member Harichandra Lawati expressed his concerns at the possible extinction of mother tongues altogether. “The threat of extinction of mother tongues stands as long as the country doesn’t steps up its efforts realizing the urgency to protect these indigenous languages,” he reasoned, suggesting the government should either create appointments for teachers or provide grants to such schools to manage teachers on their own.
Phidim Municipality chief Onahang Nembang, who has been facilitating teaching in vernacular languages, expressed his concerns at the declining attraction towards local languages. “We’re concerned about the declining attraction. We’re waiting for the law of the provincial government towards protection of such languages,” he said.
A version of this article appears in print on October 28, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.