Why and how to introduce mother tongues in African education systems?


No development can be possible without quality education. However, this is only effective when it involves the learner's mother tongue in the teaching-learning-assessment process.

Unfortunately, sixty years after independence, several African countries continue to use only the language of the settler to transmit knowledge. Certainly, to alleviate the evil, it will not be a question of suppressing from our educational systems, the learning of Western languages such as English, French, Spanish, etc., for the simple reason that we live today 'hui in a context of globalization where these languages are the most used in international relations and in business.

The time is no longer for big speeches or vain rantings but for action because, as entrepreneur Nanan Akassimandou reminds us, “uprooting and perdition begin with the loss of one's mother tongue”. Unfortunately "the descent into hell" has already started, given the impossibility for a large number of Africans today to speak their mother tongues without frequently resorting to English, French or Spanish.

Let us act quickly to save the furniture while there is still time.

To do this, it will be necessary to make national languages, languages of instruction for certain subjects alongside Western languages. And to achieve this, it will be necessary to invest in the production of textbooks and teaching materials, in teacher training, in the translation of certain important documents and in encouraging literature in these national languages. It will not be a question of replacing colonial monolingualism with African monolingualism. This is why to preserve the other languages, it will be necessary to set up a literacy program for the benefit of both rural and city dwellers.

Are there good students in Africa?

Despite the fact that there are still a large number of countries on the African continent which do not prioritize the promotion of their mother tongues, some stand out from the crowd by the use of their languages in education and in 'administration. This is the case in some countries of East Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, etc.) where Swahili is used in education and or in administration; Nigeria, where Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba - the latter this year became an administrative language in Lagos State - are learned at school.

African countries would gain a lot ...

Our nations would gain in the long term by taking national languages into account in their education systems because it must be emphasized: learners learn better and faster in their mother tongue. Language is a vector of transmission of values and traditions of a people, an element in the construction of the cultural identity of the individual. If it disappears, it disappears along with cultures and values.

The fire is already in the house. Would we sit idle, idle while it all crumbles?

Baudelaire AVENON

French college teacher. Baudelaire Géoffroy AVENON is a young leader passionate about literature and general culture, he nurtures the vision of transforming our societies, our continent, Africa, through the development of our grassroots communities in the fields of education, citizenship , agriculture, entrepreneurship, the environment.

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