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HomeEventsMother Tongue Textbooks Launched To Preserve Local Languages in CBC

Mother Tongue Textbooks Launched To Preserve Local Languages in CBC

Mother Tongue Textbooks Launched To Preserve Local Languages in CBC

The Bible Translation and Literacy (BTL) group has released textbooks in the Digo, Duruma, and Pokomo languages during a ceremony at the Kwale County Stadium.

A person’s mother tongue is the language he or she has spoken since infancy or the person’s original language.

Young children will soon be able to read books in their mother tongue languages at home and in schools. The Digo and Duruma communities are located in Kwale County, while the Pokomo mostly reside in Tana River County.

The textbooks designed for the three coastal communities aim to improve first-language literacy among schoolchildren in distant places.

Rev. Peter Munguti, the National Director of BTL, explains that schoolbooks for grades 1, 2, and 3 covering all topics in the three indigenous languages of Kenya have been prepared as part of the Mother Tongue Education Programme for Indigenous Languages (MEPIL).

He explains that the initiative’s purpose is to improve the literacy and numeracy of students in their native language and promote the learning of English as a second language before English becomes the medium of teaching beginning in Grade 4.

The manuscripts were sent to the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) for evaluation, according to Munguti, who notes that the exposed books were culturally sensitive, environmentally acceptable, and visually appealing.

According to him, the fundamental goal of the BTL initiative is to translate primary school textbooks into Chidigo (Digo), Chiduruma (Duruma), and Pokomo as a means of maintaining and promoting local community languages in the new school curriculum.

In addition, 60 education officers and around 100 teachers of grades 1-3 in Kwale and Tana River counties were trained on mother tongue teaching pedagogy to ensure a seamless launch.

“We also appeal to the ministry of education to embrace and scale up this programme to other devolved units such as Marsabit,Homa Bay,Bungoma, Lamu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Samburu among many other counties where many marginalized communities are domiciled,” he said adding that stakeholders need to support the role ‘our indigenous languages play in the teaching and learning spaces’.

According to Munguti, the MEPIL programme, which began in 2015, is a BTL project that promotes the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction during the early stages of learning in the Kenyan Education System, as suggested by the government’s Primary School Curriculum.

The national director explained that BTL is a faith-based charity that assists minority populations with language development, scripture translation, and literacy programs.

In 18 pilot schools in Digo, Duruma, and Pokomo, they have spent the last seven years developing indigenous and literacy activity materials, training teachers, and advocating for the mother tongue.

“Often the people from minority communities live in isolated areas and lack adequate facilities and infrastructure therefore BTL is currently working in over twenty-five of such communities,” he said, adding that over the years, research has shown that the mother tongue is vital in framing the thinking and emotions of people.

Long-term, according to Munguti, the idea of school books in mother tongue languages aims to incorporate the teaching and learning of indigenous languages into the educational system.

“As a country we need to revitalize indigenous languages that have long been ignored and despised and almost lost within our culture,” he said.

The senior BTL official observed that indigenous language training, particularly at the lower primary level, boosts the academic performance, cognitive growth, problem-solving skills, and creativity of young students.

As a person’s mother tongue is their native language, the medium of communication with which they are most comfortable should be used to provide instruction.

“Unfortunately this is not what has been happening over the decades but embraced the use of either a major commercial language or a colonial language as the medium of instruction in our schools,” he said.

He said learning a foreign or second language also creates a sense of alienation from one’s own culture and heritage, preventing young learners from gaining a greater understanding of their cultural legacy.

He asserts that English and Kiswahili have been the medium of instruction in schools in the country for a very long time, with children in underprivileged groups staying oblivious to the benefits of being educated in their home tongue.

Governor of Kwale Fatuma Achani, who was present at the unveiling of the textbooks, applauded the initiative to adopt mother tongue as a school language, particularly at the lower primary levels.

Achani, who was accompanied by her Deputy Chirema Kombo and Lunga Lunga MP Mangale Chiforomodo, referred to the initiative as a “start in the right way” that, if executed in its entirety, will improve the learning capacity of the students and make education a more enriching experience.

She explains that the move is not about the pride connected with local languages, but rather about debunking the notion that foreign languages are the only way to learn, and that knowing English should not prevent someone from also learning our native tongue.

“As a country we should actually embrace mother tongue as a medium of instruction in lower primary education because first and foremost it should be noted that a child understands mother tongue well and if it is instructed in that language the transition to formal education would be smooth and easy,” she noted.

She emphasized that if students were taught in their mother tongue in elementary schools, this would unquestionably boost their educational outcomes in the future.

Mother Tongue Textbooks Launched To Preserve Local Languages in CBC

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