Arunachal Pradesh, India
Settled in the rocky hills with a moderate climate, the Tagin area is a wildlife sanctuary and tourist destination. The Tagin people are agriculturalists, employing the slash-and-burn method of shifting cultivation (Jhum). They depend on hunting, animal trapping and fishing for their survival. The bison (mithun) is the most important of their domestic animals as a food source and for use in their many rituals. These animals roam freely in the nearby forests, are used as payment towards the bride-price and are the standard compensation for various crimes committed. Marriage is a negotiation and child marriage and polygamy is still practiced. The Tagin people believe in a divine force operating from the heavens through the sun (female) and moon (male). They believe that there are benevolent and malevolent spirits. The priest fulfils the function of performing various rights and rituals.
Tagin was only a spoken language until linguists assisted mother tongue speakers, through various training and workshops, to develop their own writing system. In 2011 the alphabet was designed, based on the Roman Script. A spelling guide, prepared in 2013, helps to standardise the use of the new orthography. The Tagin people are eager to get the literacy project up and running and some are showing great interest to promote the project and publish more books. They are delighted to see their language in writing and, knowing that their language will be preserved, they are willing to help with the project. It is vital that a community identifies their need for literacy and ask for assistance. If outsiders push for it, then they will always have to push for it. Community ownership is essential for sustainability and success in literacy endeavours among the Tagin people.
As of January 2020
The Tagin literacy materials were developed by the speakers of the language in conjunction with linguists and literacy consultants following a pre-designed methodology. The materials, written in the Tagin language and illustrated by their own artists include: a pre-reader, books that teach the alphabet and an accompanying story book. They also have a book of folk tales, a spelling guide and an alphabet chart to be used in lessons. A basic mathematics course as well as teachers’ guides and teacher training manuals will soon be available in the Tagin language. Training and further material production is planned for 2020. The next steps are the establishment and training of a literacy committee, identification of a project coordinator and training of teachers from the Tagin community. Further literature is also needed in developing a literate society.