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