In a bid to ensure the promotion of Nigerian languages, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation recently gave its quota to the education sector during the handing over of the Harmonised and Standardized Orthography of Four Nigerian and other related Languages, to the Minister of State for Education, Barr. Nyesom Wike in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation,Chief Edem Duke, said that most African and Nigerian languages are facing threats of extinction. Quoting UNESCO, he said 30% of the world’s languages were spoken in Africa - but now are on the verge of extinction due to the use of English.
He noted that in most African homes, there is growing lack of use of African languages; indigenous languages are no longer spoken with pride, adding that the values we place on the use of our indigenous languages have over time been eroded by our preference for foreign languages.
“It is disturbing to note that most parents encourage the use of European languages by their children, and this is at great risk to mental, linguistic and cultural development of our children.”
He also stated that Nigeria’s growth and development depended on the premium it placed on its indigenous languages and culture, hence Nigerians must take pride in the use of their languages.
“We must begin to see the use of our languages as essential component of empowering our country and the continent because if we fail to promote it, we risk stagnation, backwardness and amnesia.”
He mentioned that poor indigenous language skill was one of the causes of low achievements in the education sector.
He said that the first realistic step towards reversing the decline in education was to document local languages and revitalize their usage through the production and dissemination of reading materials.
The Director-General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization, Prof. Tunde Babawale, emphasized that the government should encourage the development of indigenous languages and improve on their terminologies.