#Article (Archive)

A measure to bridge communication gap

Oct 18, 2010, 12:15 PM

The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education should be really commended for the giant step taken by them to introduce the teaching of and learning in our national languages in schools.

The move is expected to create a language platform that will bridge the communication gap between the literates and non-literates in the country.

If we can fix the communication gap, by educating our children through our national languages, that will bring about higher standards of interaction in our communities.

The move is long overdue, as such practice is already in existence in some countries.

The importance of using our local languages cannot be overemphasised. We would, therefore, like to advise everyone to capitalize on this new development, and learn to read and write in Gambian languages.

We can even introduce the speaking of local languages in the National Assembly; this will give a chance to so many people to compete for political position. It will also help lawmakers to have better understanding of bills before passing them into law.

In most developing countries, especially in Africa, the teaching and learning of local languages is not given priority or significance.

As a result, there are no children's books written in local languages for our children to learn from, and to serve as basis for understanding the local languages.

The few books that are available are either secondhand books in foreign languages or low-quality, black and white books for more mature readers; not the type of literature that is meant to spark a child's imagination, curiosity and desire to learn to read.

Coming back to The Gambia, more teachers across the country need to be well trained for the pilot project.

Let us value our local languages for the good of ourselves and our children. With the introduction of the new policy, teacher-to-child communication in the classroom would be equally enhanced.

By introducing the new policy, we are at the same time improving the teaching of the English language, which will aid the understanding of the subject by students.

However, there might be some challenges in introducing the new system and we, therefore, call on the ministry to put in place all the necessary measures to overcome any obstacles that might come their way.

Furthermore, our commendation goes to all those Gambians who in one way or the other have made efforts to write a book in our national languages.

Teaching and learning in our own national languages is also a way of embracing our identity.