The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has called on stakeholders to devise viable and modern approaches for reviving, preserving, and promoting Nigeria’s indigenous languages in the light of the proliferation of Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools so as to engender social integration and development.
Governor Obaseki said this in commemoration of the International Mother Language Day marked every February 21, by the United Nations and its partner organisations.
The governor, who identified language as an effective tool in unifying the country and curtailing youths’ restiveness, maintained that it was important for parents to encourage children to speak more than one indigenous language because it does not only make the child more versatile, but also promotes social integration among Nigerians.
Governor Obaseki noted that his administration identifies the role of language in safeguarding and building up Edo’s rich heritage, which is why the state government has sustained the policy of teaching Edo languages in schools and commenced training of teachers through the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) programme to better assure the quality of teaching and learning of the languages in public schools.
According to Obaseki, “Celebrating a day such as this is imperative. The mandate to preserve indigenous languages holds a lot of significance because it does not only impact on the survival of ethos and esoteric attributes of a people, it also has huge implications on maintaining cultural diversity.”
He maintained that, “This is a call to action for all stakeholders to seek innovative solutions to the problem of languages going into extinction.
Aside raising awareness on the fate of languages, it is also important to develop packages and software that will help younger people to develop interest in and opt to learn their mother tongues with friendly tools and methods.”
Describing mother tongue as a language of cultural identity, Obaseki stated that “by celebrating mother tongue, we hope that one day, there will be an opportunity for us to adopt our mother tongues as the national and official language.”
According to the United Nations, “Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Globally, 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.”