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Enforce use of mother tongue in basic schools – Dr Anima Akenten urges

BY PHILIP ANTOH  |   philip.antoh@dailyheritage.com.gh


DR NANA Anima Wiafe Akenten, the first Ghanaian to acquire a PhD in Twi, has called on politicians to exercise the ‘political will’ of ensuring that schools adhere to the education policy that the mother tongue is used as a medium of instruction in the country.

According to her, even though the Twi language, for instance, is a medium of instruction for the first three years of basic education, this is not the case on the ground because most teachers in even public schools show no interest in the use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction.

In an interview with the DAILY HERITAGE yesterday, ahead of the celebration of today, February 21, as the International Mother Language Day, she said Ghana would need the ‘political boldness’ to enforce such policy because “the current state of affairs is gradually killing the love for the country’s various vernaculars like Fante, Ga, Ewe and Dagbani.

Dr Wiafe Akenten, who is a lecturer at the Ajumako language campus of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), said the time had come for parents to engage their children to value and love their mother tongue in order to know and appreciate their culture and exhibit goodwill for their country.

“It is a call that I wish parents will teach their children their mother tongue so that the children will grow and appreciate its existence,” she stated.

The lecturer said research had stated that children who use their mother tongue in the early stages of life have complete development of the brain while multi-linguals have brain development challenges.

She said the country’s earlier governments such as the administration of Dr Kwame Nkrumah adhered to the use of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction and this  really helped that generation to develop and appreciate their culture and environment.

The Twi lecturer said the mother tongue helps children to learn about their environment, feel part of the situation and problems, and make conscious effort of addressing situations better than using a foreign language.

She said while Ghanaians had failed to appreciate and value their mother tongue, countries such as United Kingdom and United States are happy to use Akan adages in their various Parliaments for emphasis.

“Why do we have to frown on our own mother tongue when conscious effort is being made by Google and other search engines gradually to introduce the Twi Language, for instance, as a medium of communication and very soon it will shock the world? Prof. Akenten asked rhetorically, adding that some universities in the United States have introduced Twi as subject.

Dr Wiafe Akenten lauded radio stations whose medium of communication is basically the mother tongue.

The Twi lecturer, therefore, called on all Ghanaians to embrace their mother tongue, value it and use it as the first tool of instruction at home and lower part of basic education to help the children appreciate and develop with it.

Background

International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual observance held on February 21 to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism.

It was first announced by UNESCO on November 17, 1999 and was formally recognised by the United Nations General Assembly with the adoption of UN Resolution 56/262 Multilingualism in 2002.

Mother Language Day is part of a broader initiative “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world” as adopted by the UN General Assembly on May 16, 2007 in UN Resolution 61/266, which also established 2008 as the International Year of Languages.

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