Beginning mid-July,teachers across 42,701 government primary schools in Bihar will teach class one students Hindi equivalents for words in Bajjika,Maithili,Bhojpuri,Angika and Magahi dialects. While the state government describes this as a language bridge course,some call it a move to cater to linguistic aspirations and others term it mere tokenism.
Students will be taught that Bajjika words pahun,mehraru and sanghatiya mean guest or brother-in-law,wife and friend,respectively; katek and pai in Maithili mean how many and money,respectively; chuliha newar in Angika means an invitation to all family members; and nimman in Bhojpuri means good.
Bihar government claims to be the first state to start a bhasha setu or language bridge course. While the HRD cites purely academic reasons to launch the course,the move is also the first step of the government to acknowledge major dialects. Though a language bridge course was discussed in the national curriculum framework in 2005,Bihar claims to be the first state to give it a concrete shape after adopting it in 2008. The state government,which is getting dictionaries printed for this purpose,will send these to schools by mid-July. The State Council of Education Research and Training has compiled the dictionaries with the help of linguists,academicians and dialect experts.
HRD Principal Secretary Amarjeet Sinha said,As government schools have mostly students from villages,its important to provide them a comfort level. They hardly speak Hindi. Teachers,with the aid of the dictionary,will help children pick up Hindi words. The dialect to Hindi dictionary will be primarily for teachers but can be referred to students as well. The idea is to minimise number of out-of-school children. Another HRD official claimed the course would be well-received by students. Asked if the course was being introduced with political intentions,the official said: It is based on purely academic considerations.
Those championing dialects,however,reacted with cautious optimism. Vaidynath Choudhary Vaiju,general secretary of Vidyapati Sewa Sangh that is fighting for the development of Maithili,said: We welcome the move even though it seems tokenism. But there is no concerted effort to give adequate push to Maithili that has its script and grammar.
Of the major dialects,Bhojpuri is spoken in Ara,Chhapra,Siwan,Gopalganj. Maithili is spoken in Darbhanga,Madhubani,Saharsa. Magahi is spoken in Nalanda,Jehanabad,Gaya,Aurangabad,Patna. Bajjika is spoken in Muzaffarpur,Sitamarhi,Samastipur. Angika is spoken in Bhagalpur,Munger,Banka,Katihar and Purnia.