The Central Highlands province of Gia Lai has since 2008 carried out a programme to teach J’rai and Bahnar languages at its primary schools. So far, the programme has helped improve local ethnic minority students’ knowledge, contributing to the preservation of local cultural identities.

With 14 classrooms and 250 pupils, Primary School No. 2 in Iaka commune in Chupah district has had the J’rai language teaching programme in its curriculum for the last five years. The school organises four periods of learning every week to teach the language to pupils aged 9-11.

The school has only one ethnic minority teacher in charge of teaching the J’rai language. She has a degree in primary education, which facilitates her teaching task.

“I alone teach the J’rai language, so I have many difficulties, but also advantages as the majority of my students are from ethnic minority groups. It is easier for my students to study in their mother tongue,” said teacher Puih H’lan from Primary School 2 in Iaka commune, Chupah district.

“The programme is so effective that most pupils are now able to read and write their mother tongue. And this also helps them learn Vietnamese at school,” she said.

After five years of implementation, the programme has been realised at 106 primary schools, benefiting 11,000 ethnic minority students.

According to Ho Thi Thao, chief of Chupah district Education and Training Office, the ethnic minority language teaching programme is very useful to local pupils because they can acquire more knowledge through their native tongue.

Teaching the J’rai and Bahnar languages at primary schools is a sound decision of the Gia Lai Education and Training Department, Thao said, adding that it speaks for aspiration of all ethnic minority people as well as J’rai and Bahnar students in the province as well.

Pham Van Can from the Gia Lai provincial Education and Training Department said the programme has contributed greatly to the language practice of ethnic minority students. It also helps preserve their native tongue and enhance their love of their birth place – the Central Highlands.

The programme not only helps ethnic minority groups access quality higher educational but also preserves and brings into play their native language and typical cultural identities, he said.-VNA