Kenya: Language is key to national cohesion

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Jun 2 12:27:51 UTC 2008

Language is key to national cohesion

VICE PRESIDENT Kalonzo Musyoka recently argued for an education system
that promotes cohesion among Kenyans. Unfortunately, our system
continues to keep students from various regions away from each other
except in a handful of our national secondary schools. The 7-4-2-3
education system that was phased out in the 1980s allowed students
from across the country an opportunity to relate freely and make
friends. High school affords students the time, mindset and space to
discover each other's world and dismantle all manner of myths spread
to demean persons from other ethnic backgrounds. This is the chance we
have scuttled by denying our children the spae to be true Kenyans.

Therefore, a language policy to be implemented through formal
education is critical. To enrich the quality of our children's
collective grasp, we ought to enrich our worldview through learning
local languages that will in turn broaden our cognitive scope.
Language determines our relationship patterns, influences decision
making and eases (or complicates) human interdependence. A language
policy that encourages mastery of several local languages and promises
rewards in the world of employment is needed.

Remember, knowledge of another person's language demystifies and
discourages exclusion. We must encourage our younger generation to
take an interest in other people's worldviews.

Abdi Hassan

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