TIMOR-LESTE: When do mother tongues divide?


Photo: Brendan Brady/IRIN
When can A-B-C’s spell conflict? A student in Manatutu District

DILI, 26 March 2012 (IRIN) – A proposal to sanction the use of indigenous languages in primary schools in polyglot Timor-Leste has divided members of government, civil society and educators, raising questions about how language can spur harmony – or discord – in the young nation.

The “mother-tongue” programme is spearheaded by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has promoted similar programmes in other countries.  More

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CAMBODIA: Airwaves breathe new life into endangered ethnic languages

Cambodia’s minority languages receive little recognition, both in this country and abroad. Though the French colonial administration drew a distinction between the ethnic Khmer majority and the highland-dwelling “Montagnards” in the north-eastern provinces, there has been little appreciation, either by colonial administrators or post-independence governments, of the remarkable linguistic and cultural diversity among the residents of these areas.

These languages are now being rescued from obscurity and the threat of extinction, under a radio initiative designed – with the help of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – to safeguard parts of the Kingdom’s cultural heritage. More

NEPAL: Anti-federalism will lead to confrontation

The way in which the states will be carved, the rights to be allocated to various levels of governance and groups, on the issue of state restructuring, have created heated debates among many sectors. After the State Restructuring Commission’s report failed to bring parties together on the issue, and rather intensify the polarisation, the debates—inside parliament and out—on federalism continue. As Chairman of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Raj Kumar Lekhi has been at the forefront of the debate, speaking on behalf of marginalised communities. Also the Chairman of Tharu Kalyankarini Sabha, Lekhi spoke with Bidushi Dhungel and Gyanu Adhikari about the demands of the marginalised on state-restructuring, the Tharu perspective and the parties’ inability to explain adequately the need for federalism to the people. Excerpts: More

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