Decided on March 01,2021

Samir Chakma Appellant


Akil Kureshi, J. - (1.) The Petitioner belongs to Chakma Tribal Community and is resident of State of Tripura. He has filed this petition in the nature of Public Interest Litigation. His main prayer is that the State authorities be directed to impart primary education to the children of Chakma Community in their mother tongue. This would of course require not only setting up of a schools for such purpose, but also preparing text books and trained teachers in Chakma language. The main plank of the petitioner's argument as canvassed before us by Mr. Roy Barman, learned Senior Counsel is that it is universally accepted that absorption of knowledge of a child of young age is always best in his mother tongue. Our attention was also drawn to Article 350A of the Constitution which provides that it shall be the endeavour of every State and local authority to provide adequate facilities for instruction in mother tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups. He submitted that in rural areas the percentage of result of the students even in primary level is extremely low which can to a large extent be attributed to imparting of the education in a language other than the mother tongue of the child.
(2.) On 09.12.2019 after hearing advocates for the parties, the Court had passed following order: 'This petition in the nature of Public Interest Litigation has been filed by an individual. He has taken up the cause of a tribal community of the State of Tripura called Chakma. His main grievance is that in the State there are no schools available for children belonging to the said community where their mother tongue is a medium of instruction. The petitioner would point out that the State Government run schools do offer to teach Chakma language as an additional subject, which is compulsory for all native students of Chakma community, however, there is not a single school in the State; Government or private which even up to the primary level, imparts education in Chakma language. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that students of this community as it is have limited opportunities and find it extremely difficult to learn various subjects in languages such as Bengali and English which are not their mother tongue. He submitted that by now it is proved and universally accepted that a child is able to grasp basic education in all subjects when it is imparted in his mother tongue. Counsel relied on a private report based on a private survey conducted by the petitioner to contend that the existing facilities in various Government schools for teaching Chakma as a subject are inadequate. Learned Advocate General, on the other hand, opposed the petition contending that it may not be feasible to start a dedicated school where medium of instruction would be exclusively Chakma language. He pointed out the relative population figures of the State and its different communities recorded in the census of 2011 and submitted that it would be ultimately for the Government to consider the feasibility of starting any such school. Both sides have a valid point of view. It is undisputable that a child tends to learn new subject best when taught in his mother tongue. Particularly, if the children come from disadvantageous background, the effort of learning a new subject in an alien language can seriously hamper his progress. The Constitution also enjoins the duty on the State to preserve the language, heritage and culture of minority communities, be it religious or linguistic minority. Having said that, the question of feasibility of starting a school imparting education in Chakma language must primarily be considered by the State Government. There can be multiple challenges such as availability of sufficient number of students, availability of trained teachers and most importantly availability of text books in the language. These would be some of the most relevant considerations. In view of such contrasting view points, presently we are not prepared to take a final decision on the subject. At the first instance, we would request the State Government to have a survey conducted through the experts in the field which would cover the following aspects:- (i) Approximate number of students of Chakma community studying in various Government primary schools in the State; (ii) A sample survey of how many of these students whose parents would enroll them in a school exclusively imparting education in Chakma medium; (iii) Approximate number of teachers required in different subjects if such a school of sizable students were to be established; (iv) The report may also state the issues concerning availability of text books, if any such attempt were to be made. Let this exercise be completed within 4 (four) months. The report be placed before this Court.'
(3.) Pursuant to the said order the State Government has filed a further affidavit dated 08th February, 2021 in which it has been stated that a survey as directed was carried out and a report of the Expert Committee which was constituted for such purpose, was submitted on 06.01.2020 as corrected by a corrigendum issued on 14.01.2020. Upon perusal of the said survey report of the Expert Committee the Government has prima facie formed an opinion that publication of text books in all non-language subjects like Science, Mathematics, Social Studies etc. in Chakma language will not be possible to be carried out under the present conditions.;

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