Asho Chin lit­er­a­ture com­ing soon to Magwe class­rooms

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NAY AUNG nayaung@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

Asho lit­er­a­ture text­books will be printed for chil­dren who iden­tify as Asho, one of the eth­nic Chin peo­ple’s many tribes, in a boost to eth­nic mi­nor­ity-tailored in­struc­tion in the class­room.

SCHOOL text­books con­tain­ing Asho lit­er­a­ture will be printed soon for chil­dren who iden­tify as Asho, com­monly grouped as one of the eth­nic Chin peo­ple’s many tribes, in Magwe Re­gion, the re­gional Chin eth­nic af­fairs min­is­ter said yes­ter­day.

“We drafted a cur­ricu­lum that in­cludes lit­er­a­ture cre­ated by lo­cal Chin peo­ple and then sub­mit­ted it to the re­gional ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment,” said the min­is­ter, U Hla Tun (NLD). “The cur­ricu­lum will be for­warded to the cen­tral [gov­ern­ment] via the re­gional de­part­ment. So school text­books will be go­ing to print when the ex­act num­ber of stu­dents who will learn is avail­able.”

The text­books will be jointly printed by Myan­mar’s Ed­u­ca­tion Direc­torate and the United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF), and sent to 10 town­ships in Magwe Re­gion where eth­nic Asho Chin pop­u­la­tions re­side.

Asho peo­ple who have passed their ma­tric­u­la­tion exam or uni­ver­sity grad­u­ates in­ter­ested in teach­ing the new lit­er­a­ture cur­ricu­lum will first be given in­struc­tion on the cour­ses be­fore they are al­lowed to teach the ma­te­rial to pri­mary-school stu­dents.

A di­vide among eth­nic Chin in the re­gion may prove a stick­ing point, how­ever, as some use the Ro­man al­pha­bet and others write in the Myan­mar-lan­guage script, ac­cord­ing to Salai Hla Saung, an eth­nic Chin.

“Lin­guis­tic ex­perts will de­cide which is cor­rect. We are plan­ning to dis­cuss that with ex­perts,” said Salai Hla Tun.

In­struc­tors teach­ing the Asho lit­er­a­ture cur­ricu­lum will be paid a monthly salary of K30,000 (US$25) by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, he said.

“It is good to teach Chin lit­er­a­ture be­cause our lo­cal peo­ple can only speak the Chin lan­guage and they don’t un­der­stand Chin lit­er­a­ture,” said Maing Yin Yin Htwe from Byan Di vil­lage in Aunglan town­ship. “Only a few el­derly peo­ple un­der­stand it.”

There are 100,246 eth­nic Chin peo­ple liv­ing in 26 Magwe Re­gion town­ships, ac­cord­ing to the of­fice of the Chin eth­nic af­fairs min­is­ter.

Myan­mar’s 2014 cen­sus listed 53 dif­fer­ent groups, the Asho among them, un­der the um­brella cat­e­gori­sa­tion of eth­nic Chin. The eth­nic tax­on­omy em­ployed in the cen­sus has proven con­tro­ver­sial, how­ever, and the re­lease of data on the coun­try’s eth­nic com­po­si­tion has been de­layed in part due to dis­putes over the sys­tem used. Sup­pres­sion of eth­nic mi­nor­ity lan­guages and cul­tures was long among the griev­ances these pop­u­la­tions har­boured to­ward suc­ces­sive mil­i­tary gov­ern­ments. Po­lit­i­cal re­forms that kicked off in 2011 have led to a grow­ing push to re­vive mother-tongue lan­guage in­struc­tion and other changes to public schools that would more ap­pro­pri­ately re­flect the na­tion’s eth­nic di­ver­sity.


Chil­dren in a pre­dom­i­nantly Asho vil­lage in Magwe Re­gion walk home from school.

Photo: Nay Aung

Chil­dren in Magwe Re­gion iden­ti­fy­ing as Asho Chin will re­ceive in­struc­tion on the tribe’s lit­er­a­ture.

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