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Gambia to introduce national language teaching in schools

Oct 18, 2010, 12:27 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Baboucarr Bouy, on Friday launched the National Language Teaching and Learning taskforce to spearhead the introduction of national languages in lower basic schools in the country.

The 42-member committee for Lower Basic Schools pilot project was officially launched at the conference hall of the Regional Education Centre in region one, Kanifing.

The Language Teaching and Learning in Schools will start in the next academic year 2011-2012. It is anticipated that by then the ministry will have been able to deploy trained teachers to schools to start teaching the languages.

In his launching statement, Mr Bouy said: "This language teaching and learning project has provided insights into the strategies that need to be adopted in order to effectively and successfully teach the said national languages in Lower Basic Schools. It is now time to move into the full implementation of the project."

He said the duty of the taskforce committee is to review and update/revise the existing orthographies of the five languages so that they reflect the way they are spoken and used in the country.

He added that there is scientific or empirical evidence that children who are fluent in their mother tongue do better when it comes to learning a second language and other intellectual skills.

He continued: "The reason for teaching these languages in Lower Basic Schools is that they are primary tools we use to get out of the many social, political, economic and developmental dilemmas The Gambia faces as a developing nation."

He said his ministry is alive to the challenges of teaching and learning of English language, especially in schools under the purview of the ministry.

PS Bouy finally paid tribute to the pioneering efforts of the people who developed the current orthographies primers and readers in the national languages – mainly in Mandinka, Fula and Wollof.