In Kenya, city parents will soon be legally required to teach their children their indigenous African languages. That is, if this proposed bill passes.
Nominated Nairobi member of the county assembly (MCA) Silvia Museiya has drafted a motion to compel City Hall's education department to develop a policy requiring every early childhood development and education (ECDE) center to have a lesson on African language and culture. According to the proposed bill, all publicly-owned nursery schools in Nairobi could soon be required to have a lesson on mother tongue.
If passed into law, the bill will make it mandatory for nursery school children to learn vernacular from their parents or relatives at home and express it in class.
“The idea is to have the children be able to stand before the rest and express themselves, in form of compositions, in mother tongue. I need a child to identify with any of the indigenous languages. I am a Maasai, but I can speak fluent Kikuyu,” Museiya explained.
According to Museiya, the motion is a necessary measure to revive indigenous African languages which are facing fast extinction especially in urban centres. “I just need the children to be able to identify with an African language and culture and minimize the Western cultural influence in our society. If we continue losing our culture then we will even lose our social norms and values as a society,” she said.
She further explained that ECDE is a devolved function and City Hall can come up with a policy compelling nursery schools to have a lesson called language and culture to be taught at least once in a week set out and that teaching young learners, who are between ages three and seven years, to communicate in mother tongue will help in the revival of languages which are being forgotten.
Header Image Credit - Afropolitan