[lg policy] African ministers resolve to promote local languages for mass education

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 24 20:46:41 UTC 2010

African ministers resolve to promote local languages for mass education

African education ministers ended a three-day conference on the use of
African languages in Ouagadougou on Friday with a call to the African
Union to immediately facilitate the integration of national languages
to educate the African child. 'We are not going home empty-handed,'
Burkina Faso's Education and Literacy Minister Marie Odile Bonkoungou,
said after the meeting of the African ministers, convened by the
Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and a
number of international donor partners.
The education ministers endorsed a new language policy document,
calling for the widespread application of African languages in
teaching school-going children. They called on the African Union's
Conference of African Education Ministers (COMEDAF) to make this its
next big agenda.

Kenya's Assistant Education Minister Prof. Ayiecho Olweny, whose
country chairs the COMEDAF, urged the ministers to 'make the
recommendations work'. 'It is important for us to make these
recommendations work out. We have to push our governments to implement
them. This should not take 10 years to implement,' Prof. Olweny said.
The ministers resolved to facilitate a process of informing more
players and institutions interested in Africa's education to support
the widespread use of the locally spoken languages for education. 'We
have not been able to use the mother-tongues as tools to develop our
knowledge. This conference has offered us a leeway on how to go about
using our African languages for development,' Madame Bonkoungou said.

Libyan government offered technical help to countries wishing to
introduce the use of the African languages in their education system.
The policy document approved by the African education ministers
outlines the process that should be followed towards introducing the
use of the local languages in schools. The policy calls for
consultations with the local communities on how new policies should be
developed and how the government institutions can work to implement
the language policies. It calls for the development of training
materials for teachers and other education ministry experts to ensure
its smooth implementation. The education ministers said the adoption
of the policy guidelines on how to make use of the local languages was
a step towards uniting Africa through a common language.

'This should be a first step towards finding a common African
language,' said Ambroise Zawa, the Central African Republic's
Education Minister. The ministers who spoke during the closing of the
meeting expressed the hope for a more rapid implementation of the
language policies in schools and pledged to work together to
successfully reach the goals.
African countries are constantly blamed for the wastage of young
learners who cannot progress to higher levels because they either fail
to pass national examinations due to their inability to grasp the
foreign languages that are used to deliver the skills.

Ouagadogou - Pana 23/01/2010

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