THE Federal Government has urged the parents and stakeholders in the country to save the Nigerian languages from extinction.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who made the call in Abuja, however, announced that a National Language Policy would soon be developed by the Ministry to strengthen the learning and teaching of Nigerian Languages across all levels of education.
Adamu, represented by the Director of Basic Education, Mr. Jonathan Mbaaka, spoke at an event organised to mark the 2017 International Mother Language Day, where he asked parents to ensure that their children were well grounded in speaking their indigenous languages.
Various speakers at the occasion organised by Federal Ministry of Education and other stakeholders expressed great concern over the alarming failure of many young Nigerians to speak their languages which is supposed to serve as their personal identity.
A statement from the Federal Ministry of Education by Mr Agidike Onu, said the minister commended the collaboration of the Linguistic Association of Nigeria (LAN), National Institute for Cultural Organisation (NICO) and De United Foods Industries Ltd, saying that with commitment from all the stakeholders, the general public would continue to be sensitised on the need to appreciate and promote the indigenous languages.
Former Minister of State for Education, Prof. Jerry Agada, who was chairman at the occasion, expressed displeasure at the attitude of many parents, particularly in the urban centres who did not speak their languages to their children in the name of civilisation, describing as shameful a situation whereby people grow up unable to speak their languages.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Jamila Shua’ara, recalled that the International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO in 1999 to be celebrated on 21st February each year, adding that the theme of the 2017 celebration was “Towards sustainable futures through multilingual education”
The keynote speaker, Professor Harrison Adeniyi, national president of Linguistic Association of Nigeria, said Nigeria had about 520 living languages, some with less than 10 speakers.
He also disclosed that a vast number of the minority languages were undocumented, without orthography and were at the brink of obliteration.
Professor Adeniyi said the theme of the 2017 celebration strongly supports multilingual education which is in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4.
According to him, multilingual education refers to a situation in which first language of the child is as a foundation for the education of the child, while after sometime, the teacher proceeds to using another language to continue the education of the child.
“Learning takes place where a child starts with instructions in mother tongue and progressively adds another tongue at a later stage in the learning process. Finally the child ends up using both L1 and L2 for lifelong learning” he said.
He commended the pronouncement by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu who said plans were underway to ensure that primary schools in the country taught mathematics and sciences in indigenous languages; even as he urged the minister to expedite action in this regard.
The celebration featured presentations by students invited from schools around the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja who demonstrated proficiency in their languages through songs and drama sketches.
It also featured interactive session where various suggestions were made on how to promote speaking the indigenous languages.