Minister of higher and technical education and tribal affairs Temjen Imna Along Longkumer Credit: File image

Kohima: In response to a starred question raised by MLA Chotisuh Sazo seeking details of Naga Tribal languages approved as a state subject, minister of higher and technical education and tribal affairs Temjen Imna Along Longkumer replied saying that the state government is setting up an Institute of Naga Literature to look into all aspects systematically.

Longkumer added, “However, a definite time frame cannot be made at this juncture.” This question was raised during the question hour on the second day, at the fourth session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA).

While four Naga local dialects — Tenyidie, Sumi, Ao and Lotha — were approved by the Nagaland Board of School Education(NBSE) for Class X and above, 18 local dialects were approved up to elementary school level.

The 13th Naga Tribal Literature Board, comprising of Chang, Chokri (Chakesang), Khezha (Chakesang), Pochury, Sangtam, Yimchunger, Khiamniungan, Phom, Konyak, Rengma, Zeme (Zeliang), Liangmai(Zeliang) and Kuki, has so far sought the government’s approval for their languages to be taken up in the secondary school level.

In response to Sazo’s supplementary question whether funds are allotted by the government of India to promote Naga languages, Longkumer replied that there was no such fund allotment.

Sazo further questioned as to why the approval sought by the literature board were not approved by the state government. To this reply, adviser of school education KT Sukhalu said that to add the language as an academic subject, it requires a set of curriculum which the NBSE must approve.

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Sukhalu recalled how he was taken by surprise when he was notified that there were only 91 language teachers in the state—when he took the charge of the department last year. Urging the need to promote vernacular literature at all levels of the education system, Sukhalu said, “There is a requirement for all the tribes to have their literature encouraged at secondary, higher secondary and even to the college level… we are definitely looking into it and we are working on it”. He assured that the grievances of the tribes whose language is not included in the secondary level will be taken seriously.

Leader of opposition TR Zeliang questioned as to why self-funding by the literature boards were deprived by the state government, or the centre has no fund allocation. To this, Sukhalu reasserted the need for a local dialect to have all the required set of curriculum—poetry, prose, grammar, etc.—and other academic criteria’s that is needed to be taught as a subject under the NBSE.

Meanwhile, chief minister Neiphiu Rio, the minister in charge, to reply to the starred question said, “Over the years, this matter was not looked into. I fully agree that there were some negligence. Therefore, I give assurance to the house that the department and the literacy board — language literature board members will be invited and in what manner we failed and how we can bring it to the system so that whoever are qualified to have their language up to class 10 or even higher education — that will be studied.”

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