By Cecilia Diesob, GNA
Accra, March 1, GNA – Mr Peter Essien, the Acting Director of the Bureau of Ghana Languages (BGL), has called on the government and stakeholders to focus on monitoring the local language policy in Education.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Essien emphasised the need to adhere to the policy in order to strengthen national unity and patriotism.
He said lack of supervision had encouraged most private schools to disregard the policy of teaching and learning of the 11 Ghanaian languages selected by Ghana Education Service (GES) to be imparted at the kindergarten and lower primary levels before the gradual introduction of the English language to the children.
“Ghanaians are quick in making policies which are not often implemented as they should be and the mother tongue (L1) policy is not exempted,” he noted.
The Acting Director of BGL blamed this on the attitude of Ghanaians towards their own culture and lack of monitoring of heads of schools to make sure the policy was implemented as required.
Mr. Joseph Kofi Avunyra, an Ewe language expert, at the Bureau recommended the need to add more languages to the education curriculum to prevent the demise of the rest of the Ghanaian languages that were not studied in schools.
He cited Guruni as a language widely spoken in the Upper East region and also studied in the university and recommended that it should be added to the curriculum.
Mr. Avunyra advocated that the L1 be made compulsory in the Senior High School level (SHS).
“Children are made to study L1 in the lower primary and they are examined at the Junior High School (JHS) level too.
“At the SHS level it is made optional, meanwhile in most Colleges of education, teacher trainees are made to study a local language in one semester to be used as a medium of instruction at the basic schools where they will be posted after school,” he said.
Mr. Avunyra said this could bridge the gap created at the SHS level which presented a difficulty to these teachers as they could not study a local language within three months and use it to teach others.
He encouraged Ghanaians to develop interest in learning their languages and teaching their children during infancy so that they could develop a sense of belongingness and respect for their culture at early ages.
Staff of the Bureau bemoaned the lack of resources to promote the writing of more teaching and learning materials to enhance the study of Ghanaian languages.
They cited the’ silent passing ‘of the 21st February celebration of the ‘Mother tongue day’ as an example and blamed poor celebration of the day to lack of funds.
The acting Director of BGL said: “The day has been celebrated on the quiet since 2008 except last year and 2015 when the Tourism Development Fund Supported the agency with funds to celebrate the day with a grand durbar.
“We have however tried to sensitise the public by holding Adult Education conferences in partnership with some media outfits to organise quizzes for schools.
“This year a quiz was organised for the five Garrison Basic schools to mark International Mother Language day and we are yet to organise another quiz for the top finalists” he added.
The International Mother Language day was instituted by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to be celebrated on the 21st February every year to raise awareness on the importance of mother tongue and its instruction in early years of schooling.
Ghana celebrates this day, particularly the institutions that promote the development of the indigenous languages such as the University of Education, Winneba, the Bureau of Ghana Languages (BGL), the Bible Society of Ghana and Ghana Institute of Languages and Bible Translation (GILLBT).