By Monsuru Olowoopejo
In order to prevent Nigerian culture from been eroded, Lagos State Government yesterday directed schools in Education District 1 to conduct their Thursday Assembly sessions in Yoruba language, a mother language for the state, just as it launched a teacher’s guide for the exercise.
Meantime, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, and Lagos State Government also asked teachers and parents to desist from discouraging students who speak their local languages within school premises.
UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and Tutor-General and Permanent Secretary, Education District 1, Dr. Oluyinka Ayandele, made the appeal at this year’s International Mother Language Day, IMLD, themed “Towards Sustainable Future through Multilingual Education,” held at Government Senior College, Agege Local Government.
Ayandele, after unveiling the handbook, explained that the Thursday model was tailored after the similar development at the State House of Assembly, where the lawmakers deliberate in Yoruba language on Thursdays.
She noted that through the book and the usage of Yoruba on the assembly ground weekly, the culture would be preserved, saying “Our culture is so rich and we all must embrace it.”
The TG/PS stressed that it was a thing of joy for the state to have a rich culture and her tenure would not relent in promoting and ensuring that students embrace it.
“We will no longer ban or scold any students who speak their mother tongue in school premises which will encourage and boost their learning. Research has shown that children can learn over seven languages. So why are we short-changing the children by stopping them since it is not bad for them to speak their mother language,” she added.
Earlier, Bokova lamented that several languages in Africa including Nigeria could go into extinction if children were continuously restricted from speaking their local languages in schools and at home.
The director, who was represented by Director, United Nations Information Centre, UNIC, in Nigeria, Roland Kayanja, said: “Mother languages help promote culture and identity of anyone who speaks them. And it helps them to live as good citizens of the world.
“It is pathetic that some people claim they belong to a society but they cannot speak the mother language of the group. That is the challenge we are facing today and research has shown that the best way to teach a child is through the mother language,” she added.
He however commended the Lagos State Government through Education District 1, for approving usage of Yoruba language, a mother language in the state, on assembly ground every Thursday, saying that the district is fulfilling the purpose of the Sustainable Development Goal, SDG.