Agartala, Jan 9: Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha on Tuesday told the Assembly that the state government would write to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) urging them to allow tribal students to write their answers in the 'Kokborok' subject examination in both Bengali and Roman script.
The ‘Kokborok’ language, which is the second official language of Tripura after Bengali, is the mother tongue of the majority of the tribals, who constitute one third of Tripura’s little over four million population.
Opposition Tipra Motha Party (TMP) and the CPI-M members, raising the issue in the ongoing Assembly session, had been seeking the provision of allowing students to write in both Bengali and Roman script in the upcoming examinations ensuring the academic future of around 5,000 tribal students is not compromised.
On the third day of the Winter Session on Tuesday, TMP's Animesh Debbarma again raised the issue concerning students appearing for the Kokborok subject in CBSE-affiliated schools in Tripura and sought students must have the choice to write their answers either in Bengali or Roman script, similar to examinations conducted by the Tripura Board of Secondary Education.
Approximately 5,000 tribal students from various schools are set to appear for the Kokborok language subject. However, they currently have no option but to write in Bengali, a language that many of them may not be comfortable with.
Supporting Debbarma’s stance, former minister and CPI-M legislature party leader Jitendra Chowdhury pointed out that in the state’s education system, there is already an option to write answers for Kokborok subjects in both Roman and Bengali, from primary-level classes to university levels.
He highlighted that when given the option, 99 per cent of students prefer to write in Roman script and so the government can at least write to the CBSE for providing both options.
The Chief Minister, who also holds the Education portfolio, informed the Assembly that a three-member committee led by former MLA Atul Debbarma, has been assigned to work out the issue.
The government is awaiting the committee’s report before taking further action, he said.
The TMP has also been spearheading agitations across Tripura demanding the introduction of the Roman script for Kokborok.
For over five decades, there has been a debate over the use of the Bengali and Roman scripts for the Kokborok language. While some Kokborok speakers favour Bengali, the majority of the tribal intellectuals and academicians advocate the Roman script. Since 1988, two commissions have been set up on the issue under tribal leader Shyama Charan Tripura and linguist and academician Pabitra Sarkar.
A TMP leader said that Kokborok is the mother tongue of the tribal people and it belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family and is close to other languages of the northeastern region such as Bodo, Garo, and Dimasa.