By Ohi ojo
In furtherance of the objectives of its enabling decree, the National Institute for Cultural Orientation, NICO has commenced its indigenous language programmes aimed at helping Nigerian children to communicate in their mother tongue and adults with spouses from different ethnic backgrounds, the language of their spouses.
From inception of the programme in 2007, the three major languages namely: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba have been taught while Izon language will be added in the forth coming edition beginning from August 6, 2011. As usual the programme will be held at the Institute’s Lagos office at National theatre, annex Iganmu.
The main objectives of this programme are to create awareness on the need to speak our indigenous languages, create a sense of pride in our indigenous languages thereby fostering national pride/identity, encourage the need to preserve our indigenous languages as well as fulfill one of NICO’s cardinal objectives which is to re-orientate Nigerians toward a culture oriented life style.
The mode of teaching has always been the simplified style in order to ensure that students easily understand and digest what they are taught. For beginners, the teaching scheme is divided into weekly syllabus ranging from preamble- greeting, brief background of language, alphabets and formation of words, objects e.g in class, house, market etc .
( Nouns and Pronouns), animal and family associated names, question tags like where, when, how, which, why etc, activities in the home, school, farm, etc., words associated with buying and selling, numbering 1- 100, identification of self and other parts of the body; seasonal periods like time, year, months, days of the week, weather etc, simple sentence translations, tonal marks in languages, traditional titles, simple orthography, customs, traditions and brief composition of oneself.
However, the teaching scheme for the advance class i.e those students who are willing to further their knowledge of the local languages were taught how to count numbers 100-500, simple addition and subtraction, formation of words, tonal marks, structure of sentences (verbs and nouns), orthography, composition (oneself, objects, seasons etc), comprehension/ simple sentence translations on objects in the house, school etc, revision of the previous and present year lecture and drama presentation.
Speaking at the formal opening of fourth indigenous language programme organized by NICO Lagos in 2010, the immediate Past Deputy Governor of Lagos, Her Excellency Mrs. Sarah Sosan represented by Mrs. Regina Obasa, lauded the marvelous initiative and said “As we are all aware, the importance of mother tongue in societal growth and development cannot be over emphasized.”
Interestingly, the Institute has further replicated the Nigerian Indigenous Language Programme in its Six Zonal Offices in the country, comprising the North-West (Katsina), North-Central (Kwara), North-East (Yola), South-West (Akure), South-East (Owerri) and South-South (Bayelsa).