‘Mother Tongue Is Important’

Education Min. Prof Jane Nana Opoku Agyemang (third left) in a group photograph with the G-RAP Language Policy Working Group

The Minister of Education Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang has stressed the importance of using the mother tongue to educate children before introducing the English language to them.

She said a parent’s level of competence in speaking a particular language influences their children’s education and believes that if children are taught at the early stage in languages their parents understand and speak; it will help them to start up well.

She said this during the inauguration of the Ghana Reading Action Plan (G-RAP) Language Police Working Group (LPWG) to facilitate the creation of a language policy for successful reading outcome in the country.

Comparative evidence, in Africa and elsewhere, affirms the importance of ‘appropriate language policies’ to successful reading outcomes.

Concretely, this implies a language policy that allows children to read and write initially in their local familiar languages, before transferring the reading skills into English.

The nine member working group will review the language policy in education and recommend changes that will clarify the provision, and sharpen its role in the successful implementation of G-RAP.

It will also identify the challenges in the school system hindering the implementation of the Language Policy in Education, and propose measures to address these implementation challenges amongst others

Speaking at the programme the Coordinator of LPWG Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah said this approach builds on children’s experiences and moves their learning from the known to the unknown. It thus allows for, and sustains the connection between the home as the traditional base for early learning and the school.

He added that in the context of traditional learning, this is important, as it is believed that learning begins at home, hence formal education should not attempt to detach or disengage the child from his/her initial environment.

He indicated that this is acknowledged in Ghana, with the current policy prioritizing the use of the Ghanaian language in the early years. ‘Specifically, the current policy of the Ministry of Education stipulates that Ghanaian Language is used as the medium of instruction at the kindergarten and lower primary level and English as and when is necessary. By P4, English becomes the medium of instruction while Ghanaian language is learnt as a subject,’ he emphasised.

This policy is implemented using eleven (11) approved Ghanaian Languages namely Akuapem Twi, Twi, Fante, Nzema, Ga, Ewe, Dangme, Daagare, Dagbani, Gonja and Kaseem.

By Sarah cobbinah
[email protected]

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