Prof. Mugambi Urges Development of Indigenous Languages

Prof. Mugambi Urges Development of Indigenous Languages

Assistant Professor in the Department of English & Literature, Dr. Hannah Mugambi, has stressed the need to develop Africa’s indigenous languages.

“If Africa is to develop and achieve universal literacy and education for all, the continent has to develop all its languages, no matter how minor and how costly the process seems. In the long run, Africa will spend less on education as a whole and particularly on the English language.”

She said that when there is a purpose to learn a language, the result is that it becomes possible.

“I believe we can learn as many languages as possible if we have to because if you cannot communicate, then you are not going to be able to function in society.”

Dr. Mugambi with two students (Farida Sani Haliru and Sumaiya Muhammad Mai) who are enrolled in her ENG 416 course (Language & Development) had investigated the means of instruction in a multilingual nomadic classroom. They used selected classrooms at Modibbo Raji Nursery and Primary School as case studies and presented their findings at the SAS seminar on December 6 that attracted a large audience.  

Dr. Mugambi maintained that being literate in one’s mother tongue is important.

“I believe that everybody should be literate in the mother tongue, which means being able to read and write the language apart from being able to speak it.”

She recalled the 1958 UNESCO recommendation on using indigenous languages as a medium of instruction in lower primary school and set out to investigate how effectively the policy is being implemented in this school.

“The policy says we should teach in the mother tongue. However, it is important to teach the students how to read and write in their mother tongue as well.”

Speaking of why they chose Modibbo Raji for the study, Ms. Mai said being a nomadic school was of interest. She also gave the outcome of their study.

One of the attendees, Assistant Professor, Dr. Agatha Ukata, opined that the study should explore problematic concerns bordering on how learning in mother tongue up to primary four interferes with learning in English.

She also is of the opinion that with globalization, people marry from anywhere and children do not own one language anymore. “So there is the problem of which language to adopt.”

Reported by Omorogbe Omorogiuwa