Chin State parliament approved five Chin languages to be introduced into schools after meeting late last month.
Initially, four ethnic languages were proposed said MP Van Thawng for Thangtlang township constituency-1. After more discussions, a fifth language was added.
Languages, Laizo, Lai, Zo, Cho and Khumi will be taught this year in schools in Hakha, Thangtlang, Falam, Tedim, Tongzan and Paletwa townships.
For the first time ever, course books will be created for these languages in government schools and students can pick what they want to study despite where they are residing, said Awng Liang, MP for Matupi township constituency-1.
Chin State is home to eight main Chin groups and many other sub-tribes.
“Later, we will publish books in other languages,” Awng Liang said, explaining at this point the state’s budget for producing the new course books is limited.
Van Cung Liang, director of Chinbridge Institute, a research and learning centre, said other groups whose languages are excluded from school curriculum may feel they are being discriminated against.
“There are many languages in Chin State but they (the government) only chose five,” Van Cung Liang said. “Some say these are the five major languages in Chin State, but who exactly determined this? This wasn’t explained.”
For example, in Matupi township many residents speak Zotung or Matu, Van Cung Liang said. How can we decide which language is more important, he asked. “I think every language is just as important, even if a smaller number is using it.”
There are many sub-tribes with their own languages. If their offspring are not allowed to study their mother tongue in school it’s possible these languages will disappear, Van Cung Liang said.