[lg policy] Nigeria: Varsity Teacher Urges Evolution of Indigenous Language Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Thu Aug 6 15:26:05 UTC 2015

Nigeria: Varsity Teacher Urges Evolution of Indigenous Language Policy

By Abiodun Fagbemi

Ilorin — Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of
Georgia, Atlanta, United States, Dr. Akinloye Ojo, has canvassed prompt
revision, adequate development and better implementation of Nigeria's
national language policy, in order to confer the much-needed global
recognition on our indigenous languages.

Already, Yoruba and Hausa languages, he said, were gaining increasing
recognition in the areas of teaching and learning in many American and
European universities, and have potentials that could be explored for more
international exchange learning programmes.

Ojo made the call at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, while
delivering the Faculty of Arts Special Lecture, which was titled, "Pedagogy
of Yoruba Language in the United States of America: Retrospect, Prospects
and Lessons for Nigeria."

The university lecturer, who has taught Yoruba language and culture in six
American universities over the last 22 years, informed that Yoruba language
was assuming greater socio-linguistic and socio-cultural functions at home,
within the West African sub-region, Europe, the Americas and in the

The academic, who described Yoruba language as one of the fastest growing
languages in the U.S., called on the Nigerian government to evolve a
clearly defined indigenous language policy to further give Nigerian local
languages more global recognition.

Ojo, who said, "Yoruba is acquiring new speakers at various proficiency
levels at an all-time high across the world," drew the attention of policy
makers to the economic, social and security implications of neglecting the

He disclosed that in the U.S. cases have been delayed in courts for several
months, even years, if there were no translators for specific languages of
contending parties.

Ojo, who is also the Director of African Studies Institute at the
University of Georgia, informed that the United States government was
investing hugely in the study of African languages, especially Yoruba,
Swahili, Hausa and another Congolese language, and has established national
resource centres across the country, for the study of these languages.

The university don therefore urged education policy makers in the country
to consider making proficiency in a Nigerian language, other than the
student's mother tongue, a requirement for graduation at the undergraduate

The guest lecturer canvassed a plan that would mandate students to complete
certain number of hours in a Nigerian language other than their mother

According to him, the new language policy should promote economic
investment in language education and the teaching and learning of Yoruba
language for instance.

He explained that a lot of works have been done, which students and
prospective students and other users were unaware of, thus making
investment in the study and learning of the language unattractive.

While pointing out that many US embassies in Africa have Yoruba
translators, he stressed that graduates of the language could be gainfully
employed at foreign missions and all offices where human movements were
high like the Nigerian Custom Services, in the aviation and security

We need them in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) too to
develop software, keyboards etc... our indigenous knowledge system is best
expressed in Yoruba and scholars on the continent and tit the Diaspora must
work to enhance the visibility of the language."

While declaring the lecture open, the school's Director of the Centre for
Research Development and In-House Training (CREDIT), Prof (Mrs.) Temidayo
Oladiji, who stood in for the vice chancellor said, "The issue of
internationalisation of our activities in this University is very dear to
the vice chancellor and current efforts in this regard cannot go
unnoticed." Prof. Oladiji explained that the university was engaging
contemporaries in other places because that approach remains the best way
to fast-track and jump-start research capabilities.

Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Ayobami Akinwale, called on those who are of
the view that Yoruba language was not worth learning or studying to have a
rethink, especially with the submission of a visiting Yoruba professor.
Prof. Akinwale further disclosed that the University of Ilorin had signed a
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Georgia.

The MoU, he said would open opportunities for staff and students of the
university, particularly those from the Faculty of Arts to go on exchange
programmes to the States and vice versa.


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