Nagaland heritage textbooks to replace Alternative English

In a significant development, to preserve local culture and traditions of the state, State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) Nagaland has developed a Nagaland Heritage Studies Textbook series to replace Alternative English as a subject up to Class 5 throughout the state. Nagaland Governor, P.B. Acharya graced the occasion as the chief guest and released the textbook series in a function held at SIEMAT hall SCERT Kohima on Tuesday.

The Governor in his address termed it “a historic day” and lauded the SCERT for its commendable task of developing the textbook which will help the Nagas preserve their identity.  He said almost all the states of the country were slowly losing their heritage and culture, including Nagaland, and unless this is checked, we will lose our identities.

According to Acharya, research has shown that education at the primary levels is better taught in the children’s mother tongue which, he said, was also their identity. Encouraging its use, the Governor said that one should not hesitate to use their mother tongues even if they belonged to a small community. The Governor asserted that even if one speaks English fluently and well the person would not die an Englishman. He pointed out that many universities in the country were offering foreign languages but there was not a single university offering tribal dialects and so he had taken the initiative to introduce it in some of them. He called upon the people of the state to make a concerted effort to preserve their identity and culture for which, he said, political and social will was needed.

Nagaland State Commission for Women chairperson, Dr. Temsula, in her address said that any discourse on Naga identity, history and culture had to rely on oral traditions as we do not have any contemporary and indigenous written accounts of our history. She said transforming an oral story into a written one should mean transferring the cultural ethos in the original onto a script and for this the first recipient should be the mother-tongue and not another language. In doing this, she said the culture of a community is remembered afresh by the people and it is re-vitalized through the written medium which in turn acts as a re-affirmation of the culture.

She cautioned that translating a text to another language was littered with hazards because of the risk of displacement of meaning from the original. Also, she stated that there is often the temptation of embellishment, exaggeration and romanticizing of native lores, which had to be guarded against.
SCERT director, T. Sekhose, in his brief report on the project said Nagaland has been blessed with different cultures and the attempt to tap its potential took years since this project was started in 2015 and required over 50 seminars and other necessary groundwork.

He said the 90 individual titles in 18 sub dialects were being introduced in all government and private schools of Nagaland in place of Alternative English. The first series of text books will be introduced up to class five and he was hopeful that the introduction of the entire series for class six to eight would complete by 2018. He said, being the first edition, the text books needed suggestions and feedback from the teachers and parents.

School Education and SCERT principal secretary, F.P. Solo, who led the programme, in his welcome address said the textbook would preserve, protect and promote our culture. He said Nagaland was moving ahead in the English subject, compared to other states, but was neglecting the local dialects. He opined that the introduction of the text books would preserve local languages. He said the same textbook has been translated into all the tribal languages of the state and also into English for others.

Faith Harvest Church pastor, Rev. Shan Nikon offered the invocation prayer; a special song was presented by Dziesekhrienuo Keretsii while the vote of thanks was proposed by SCERT addl. director, Kewepelou Kapfo. The programme was attended by the director of school education, SCERT officials, various tribal hoho leaders, literature committee of various publication houses, and others.

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