From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Some stakeholders in the education sector have advocated the use of indigenous languages for teaching or instruction, especially of individual pupils or small groups, in the basic education system, for maximum impact.
They observed that the adoption of indigenous languages would make the pupils connect more with their teachers / instructors, thus making them understand the subjects more better.
To this end, they supported the national role out of the Accelerated Basic Education Program (ABEP) which is a document developed by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) in conjunction with PLAN International, an International NGO.
Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, who spoke at the public presentation of the document in Abuja on Thursday, explained that the objective of ABEP was to provide an alternative educational program suitable for the needs of over-age out-of-school children and youth, and in the process mainstream them to regular school programs or provide them with an alternative career path through enrolment into vocational training centers.
He added that the intention to develop the program also arose because of the need to provide a national framework and curriculum standard that can be used in all states of Nigeria where there are such peculiarities.
They confirmed that the program specifically targets out-of-school children between ages 10 and 18 who were in school but had their education interrupted and are over age to continue schooling from where the stopped.
“It is also for those who have never been to school and are over age to start formal education from the foundation class (Primary 1). ABEP was structured into three levels, namely, Level 1 (Stage 1-3) to cover the curriculum contents of Primary 1-3; Level 2 (Stages 1-3) to cover the curriculum contents of Primary 4-6; and Level 3 (Stages 1-3) to cover the curriculum contents of JS 1-3.
NECO Registrar, Prof. Wushishi, in his remarks, made reference to countries like China and other western countries where children are taught in indigenous languages which makes them understand better and connect easily with their teachers.
He said: “I join the call for our education system to adopt indigenous languages for teaching and learning. Societies in the world that have advanced in education and other Achievements use indigenous for teaching and learning in their schools. ”
He suggested that NERDC translate the ABEP document into Nigerian languages, and the instructions be done in Nigerian languages. “It’s time we drop the Colonial mentality of the English language being superior to our indigenous languages. Recognizing that will Accelerate our growth and development as quickly as possible. ”
A member of the House of Representatives, Shehu Kakale, who represented the Chairman, House Committee on Basic and Secondary Education, Julius Ihonvbere, had earlier in his remarks, supported the call for the use of indigenous languages for teaching in schools especially primary schools.
He promised to support any cause that would herald the introduction and use of indigenous languages for teaching in schools, insisting that such would improve participation and learning in schools especially children in primary schools.
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Prof. Paulinus Chijioke Okwelle, however, disagreed with the position of some of the speakers people that indigenous languages should be adopted for teaching and learning in primary schools.
He said: “As much as that suggestion is good, we have to note that we have over 200 indigenous languages in Nigeria. It will be a difficult task if we are to go the route of indigenous languages in basic schools. ”
Meanwhile, the Country Director, Plan International, Mr. Charles Usie, said the process of the ABEP had been tested in Borno and Yobe state as the pilot states and had proven to be effective methods of teaching.
Usie added that the process would leave one behind as it was a way of bringing children who were out of school back to normal education.
“Priotising education gives an opportunity for one to thrive, an opportunity to fight in life and be productive in life. We are celebrating another opportunity for Nigerians who will otherwise have no chance in life.
“This launch today is Sacred, we are already testing this product and we are facing the right direction because testing products has worked in Borno and Yobe states,” he said.