…charges parents to encourage children to speak more than one indigenous language
Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has called on linguists, communicators and other stakeholders to devise viable approaches for preserving Nigeria’s indigenous languages to engender social integration and allow for members of different ethnic groups have solid claims to their unique identities.
Governor Obaseki said this on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Mother Language Day marked every February 21, by the United Nations and its partner organisations.
Obaseki said it was regrettable that a number of Nigerian languages are reportedly going extinct and that parents, who ordinarily should be in the vanguard of preserving these languages, are often culpable in preventing children from learning to communicate in their mother tongue.
According to him, “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.
“Preserving indigenous languages is necessary because what bequeaths humanity with the beauty and splendor we celebrate and bask in everyday is not the fact that we are alike in all ways but because we are unique in our different ways, chief of what makes this so is the unique languages, which hold not just cultural significance but also the collective wisdom of a people.”
Obaseki said that the Edo State government recognises this fact which is why in the early days of his administration, he sustained the policy to teach Edo languages in schools and commenced training of teachers to better assure the quality of teaching and learning of the languages in public schools.
He maintained that, “it behoves on linguists, communicators and even Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and software developers 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.”
With the 2018 commemoration themed Linguistic Diversity and Multilingualism count for Sustainable Development, Obaseki maintained that it was important for parents to encourage children to speak more than one indigenous language because it not only makes the children versatile, but also promotes social integration among Nigerians.
According to the United Nations, “International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62). The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution A/RES/56/262 of 2002.
“This initiative not only increased awareness of language issues, but also mobilised partners and resources for supporting the implementation of strategies and policies in favour of language diversity and multilingualism in all parts of the world.”