This is why we’re taking on this project

These are the people we want to be able to serve: the roughly 700,000 people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Specifically the dozen or so ethnic peoples who have lived in this region for centuries, farming, fishing, weaving some of the most beautiful textiles in the world.

They are in grave and imminent danger of losing their language, and especially their written language, and everything that entails. The schools we partner with are doing something innovative and vital: teaching them to read and write in their own mother tongues.

We support the resolution of International Mother Language Day, which asserts the rights of all people to be able to use their own mother tongues. This in turn leads to a sense of value in their own culture, history, identity.

Please help us in this crucial final week. Our Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1496420787/100-words-for-a-childrens-endangered-language-dict/ is trying to make a small start–only 100 words–with an immense implication, not only in the Hill Tracts but around the world. We need to raise another $4,000. Please help in any way you can.
Thanks.

2 Responses

  1. Crane
    |

    Are their schools also teaching them to read and write in a tongue which isn’t endangered?
    Or are are these children being raised to be functionally illiterate should they ever wish to leave the region of their birth?

    • Timothy Brookes
      |

      Yes, it may seem from the outside that those are the two options, but in reality that is not the case, either in the Hill Tracts or elsewhere. Let’s take a clearer analogy. In 19th-century Vermont, where I live, children of French immigrants were taught in English, along the lines of the American “melting-pot” myth. In reality they sat in class confused, ostracized, the victims of sarcasm and often beatings by their teachers and verbal and physical abuse by their classmates. Some of them learned some English, which was probably of some value, but at what cost? What they mostly learned was that as Frenchies they were a despised minority. The same has been true for, say, Cherokee children at Christian schools in the U.S. and Aboriginal children at white schools in Australia. In these three schools founded by Our Golden Hour and the local communities in the Hill Tracts, children learn first respect for themselves and their own culture and language, and they transition into learning Bangla, the national language. Here’s the final kicker: research coming out of Canada is showing that Inuit children who first learn their own language and then transition to English-speaking schools are more likely to read English at or above grade level than English-speaking kids who have been in English-speaking schools all along. What is happened in the Hill Tracts is potentially something for the whole world to watch.