[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] Endangered alphabets and scripts in Bangladesh

Brookes, Tim brookes at champlain.edu
Sat Apr 11 22:48:23 UTC 2015

Dear Colleagues

I’m sorry to have to pester you like this, and I would not do so unless it
was necessary, but my students and I need your help, urgently.

For the past two years, my Publishing students at Champlain College have
been designing and publishing classroom materials in endangered languages
for indigenous children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Most
schools teach in the national language of Bangla, and in the Hill Tracts
this means children simply don’t understand what they’re being taught, and
drop out in staggering and depressing numbers. Fewer than 2% finish their

But three schools now teach 650 children in their mother tongues, with
spectacular results—but they have no teaching materials.

My students have created classroom readers, coloring books (the first ever
seen in the region), alphabet wall charts, alphabet rubber stamps, and they
are now working on the first anthology of proverbs and oral-tradition
stories, gathered by the schoolchildren themselves, from the region.

We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign (at
to raise funds to print these books, and we have commitments of more than
$2,500, but we need to reach our goal of $4,000 or we get nothing.

Things have gone beyond urgent and are verging on the desperate.

We need to raise $500 a day for the next three days.

I hate to come knocking on your door like this, but if there’s any way you
could help to get the word out urgently, or make a contribution yourself,
my students would be very relieved and I’d be very grateful.

Thank you so much for anything you can do to help.


Tim Brookes

The Endangered Alphabets Project


On Sat, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:56 PM, Randy LaPolla <randy.lapolla at gmail.com>

> *From: *"Brookes, Tim" <brookes at champlain.edu>
> *Subject: **Endangered alphabets and scripts in Bangladesh*
> *Date: *September 16, 2012 2:31:59 AM GMT+08:00
> Dear Colleagues,
> As some of you know, I've been developing my Endangered Alphabets carving
> project for three years, and much of it is now visible at
> http://www.endangeredalphabets.com. Just recently, though, I met a young
> man named Maung from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh who has
> undertaken a heroic quest. First, he got himself an education—an
> achievement in itself, as he is from one of the 13 or so indigenous groups
> in the CHT, and all education was in bengali, which he could not speak.
> Second, largely self-educated and taught by his mother, he got into Harvard
> to study engineering. Then, once he had graduated, he went back to the CHT
> and built a school for his people. But that still wasn't enough. He
> understood that the kids, who were growing up unable to read or write their
> own traditional documents and were rapidly being separated from their own
> cultural traditions, needed school books and reading materials in their own
> scripts—Mro, Marma, Chakma, Tripura, and so on. So he went back to Harvard
> to do a graduate degree in education so he'd be qualified and skilled
> enough to create appropriate materials.
> I mat him by chance in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he and I have started
> a project that will bring together artists and academics from across the
> world to create those books—a process that will involve carving,
> calligraphy, typography and other design skills.
> If you'd like to know more about him and his heroic endeavors, I suggest
> you contact the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
> If you'd like to contribute to the fundraiser we're running to try to
> achieve all this, please visit
> http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1496420787/endangered-alphabets-ii-saving-languages-in-bangla
> .
> As always, we're all open to suggestions, connections, feedback, and so on.
> Thanks!
> Tim Brookes
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