Tripura is a tiny state located in the North-East corner of India. The state has a mixed population of tribals and non-tribals. Earlier, the tribal indigenous population was in the majority but over the decades they have become the minority. Despite the changing demography, Tripura is one of the most literate states of India at 87 percent literacy. It is important to remember the struggles associated with how the indigenous population had its first tryst with education in 1945, two years before India’s Independence.
It was a time when the majority of Tiprasas were illiterate. There were no school facilities available in villages. Most of the population was into farming and did not have enough money to send their school to the city. Moreover, there was little awareness of the importance of a robust education system.
At that time there was a small civil society of indigenous people in Tripura. These individuals were writers, teachers, and officials who had gained good education and were settled in Agartala, the main city. These concerned people gathered together and decided that if the indigenous community is to be empowered, educational facilities must be provided to them. However, opening schools would mean a huge challenge in terms of the funding and land. To sort out this issue the team of people visited the then King of Tripura Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarma requesting him to help with the finances.
On December 27th, 1945, the team of indigenous people—Dasarath Deb, Sudhanwa Debbarma, Hemanta Debbarma, Aghore Debbarma, Biren Dutta, and Nilmani Debbarma set up the “Janasiksha Samiti” to set up schools in the state. In order to help them, Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarma got in touch with the state’s former education in-charge Major DAW Brown and prepared a plan. Due to the combined efforts, 488 schools were built in the state in the next few years. This is how the seeds of education were sown among the tribals.
With the establishment of schools, a new day dawned for the indigenous people of Tripura. Education is an important tool for development and success. It is thanks to the work of our ancestors that we are walking shoulder to shoulder with others. Apart from opening schools the Janashikha Samiti also brought out a magazine called “Kwtal Kothoma” in 1954 that promoted Kokborok language. The first editor was Sudhanwa Debbarma.
Lastly I want to say that had our leaders not come up with Janashika Samiti, the indigenous people would not have risen to our current level of success. The people who established it were futuristic in their outlook. We should know about this history so that we can emulate it for the betterment of our society.
Kokborok article below
1945 Bisio Tiprasa rog ni bagwi dophani chati wngwi bachakha : Janashikha Samiti
Bharat haa kotor ni bisingo khopjak Tripura kaisa chikonsa haste hinwi sinijagwi tongo. O haste o chini Tiprasa bosong ty kwbangma buini bosong ni borok rog bo tongwi tongo. 1947 bisio Bharat haa kotor yokmung manna swkang chini haste o rwngswrwng mung ni sep belai khe biyal o kwlaijak. Kuchuk berem ni rwngswrwng mung nana thang khe chwng buini haste eba buini haa kotor o thang gwi ma swrwng lai o, phiyaba o rwngswrwng mung rang puisa gwnang rog simi c nawoi mano. Chini kami amchai rogo rang puisa ni biyal o kwlaijak mangsi kwbangkuk. Borog porinani bagwi mungsa sep rijak ya haste haphang ni bisingtwi. Chini Tiprasa bosong Sirisiti ni simi noh huk bai gwdalui tongma chwng swrai swrai sawoi mano. Salburum noh huk o samung khwlaiwi tongma bai borog rwngswrwng mung ni mulaja(value) sawoi maya.
Omohai jora hamya eba porinani sep maya wng tongma noh nugui chini dopha ni kuchuk berem ni lekhakwrwng, swikwrwng eba wanswk kwrwng borok rog kha dujak kha. Borog Tiprasa dopha hamkhwrai ni bagwi thwiyasak samung khwlai thanai hinwi kaisa swmai tanglaikha. Borog ni imang wngkha Tripura haste ni kwbangma kami amchai o rwngnok(School) khulogwi rinani. O rwngnok ni bisingtwi chini kami amchai o tongnai borog rog ni thinang kuchung khwlainani puila yapri selaikha.
1945 bisi ni 27th December salmario chini Tiprasa dopha ni sinai-nuknai eba wanswk kwrwng Dasarath Debbarma, Sudhanwa Debbarma, Hemanta Debbarma, Aghore Debbarma, Biren Dutta, Nilmani Debbarma borog kaisa motha khalaikha o motha ni mung wngkha "Janashikha Samiti" borog ni naimung wngkha kami amchai o rwngnok khuloknani tei borog noh rwngswrwng thani kaham sep rinani. Jirania ni Durga Choudhury Para o khorokdok borog bai tuiduljak 27th December ni 1945 bisio borog swmai tanglaikha.
Borog ni imang noh mwkthang khwlainani bagwi borog Bubagra Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarma ni thani malailai koklam salaikha Bubagra borog ni o kaham yapri sema noh nugui belai kha tongthok jak kha. Bubagra borog ni o samung noh nugui kwcham jorani rwngswrwng montri Major D. A. W Brown noh dagimung rikha. Bubagra Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarma ni dagimung bai Tripura haste o bebak miliwoi 488 rwngnok khulogwi rijak kha. Borog ni "Janashikha samiti" ni bisingtwi kwbang kami amchai rogo swrwng nani sep manbaikha.
Paithak o ang sana mwchung o 1945 bisio chini dopha ni swikwrwng, wanswk kwrwng, lekhakwrwng rog bai songchajak "Janashikha Samiti " kwrwi hinkhe chwng tabuk bo buini dopha ni ukolog o kwlai tongna nangkha mo. Borog ni kaham wanswk mung eba kaham yapri sema bai chini dopha bo tabuk hayungo kuchung aikhor bai sinijagwi tong o, aboni bagwi 1945 bisio " Janashikha Samiti " chini dopha ni chati hinwi chwng sawoi mano.
This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.