State Minister of Gender and Culture Lukia Nakadama has urged Ugandans to teach children their mother tongue early in life, as it is key in an all-round education.
“Emphasis on mother tongues will help navigate other ways of intellectual cognition, instil a sense of self in global context and create relations in the next generation,” Nakadama said as she announced preparations for celebrations of the National Mother Tongue day April 8 2016.
There are over 65 indigenous communities in Uganda with a total of 44 languages spoken.
Uganda’s national language is English, with use of Swahili and the mother tongues of secondary recognition. Government has promoted local languages in the curriculum for lower classes to primary three pupils, used both as a language and a medium of instructions.
The celebrations, due at the National Theatre, will recognise Uganda’s cultural diversity in languages. A symposium and exhibition will also crown the day’s celebrations under the theme “Quality Education: the contribution of mother Tongues to Learning Outcomes in Uganda.”
“We have formed clusters of different languages and translated books in local languages, in Kampala schools. If a child is from the western region of Uganda, they will be associated with the western cluster and so on,” Nakadama said.
“This will help children to learn more vocabulary, find their identity and understand their communities.”
International Mother Tongue day is celebrated to promote awareness of cultural diversity and linguistics. February 21 marks the global celebrations but they were postponed due to the national elections and also because a budget line had not been formed, according to the minister. The day was recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008.
Aidan Eyakuze, Executive Director, Twaweza ni sisi, a Non Government Organisation that focuses on emphasis of basic learning among children at home, said many countries take local languagues sersiously, giving an example of the Chinese government that has extended its language to Ugandan learning institutions to expand social, political and economic engagements.”