The self-confessed failed Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, has again walked the nation into another cul de sac of a National Policy on Education (NPE) with his recent disclosure that his shiny new NPE contains the policy of indigenising the national language of instruction – English – in all Nigerian primary schools.
According to Adamu, the NPE proposes to have all Nigerian children thought all subjects in primary schools in indigenous languages, specifically the language of the community in which each child lives.
With nearly 700 hundred of such languages and dialect nationwide, it does not require much intellectual acumen to imagine the enormous – and we dare say, improbable – logistics needed to pull off this ill-thought out part of the NPE in terms of the training, retraining teachers, codifying all indigenous languages into teachable forms, translating and transcribing textbooks from English, French, etc to these languages, etc.
But somehow, Minister Adamu Adamu, regrettably seized on some form of new millennial, neo-Tarzanian paroxysm, appears to think that simply slapping this policy via some sentences in the NPE would actualise it by some Aladdinesque magic, nationwide.
If Minister Adamu Adamu meant to curry public favour with this pseudo-populist policy he can be assured that he has missed it. Even neo-Negritude thinkers would balk at this new Tower of Babel in a country where ethnic champions in and outside government whip up micro-nationalistic fervors to deadly effects daily and in full-throated ease.
Assuming – but not conceding – that some sort of a post-colonial remake of the language of teaching is what Nigeria needs at the moment in order to secure its future, the Adamu Adamu farce is not the way to go. It is a way that may seem right to the honourable minister of education and his conclave of post-colonialists who dreamt this up, but the end therefrom is the destruction of Nigeria itself as a nation.
The workable path to indigenising the Nigerian Education System – possibly to even higher institutions, although we do not recommend this pointless insularity from a global, increasingly fast-shrinking neoliberal socio-economic flatland – is not to instruct Nigerian children in nearly 700 languages at the primary school level.
The alternative, practicable vision this newspaper offers to Minister Adamu Adamu and his blundering eggheads at the Ministry of Education is this: Nigeria should be pick the least-spoken (indigenous population wise) threatened language from any part of the country and give this to a broad panel of linguists to develop into a language which can bear the multifaceted burden of 21st Century global knowledge formulation, incubation, transmission, dissemination, etc.
This freshly codified, vastly enriched and expanded language can then be adopted as the language of national instruction in the country’s school system from primary level to higher institutions.
Of course a lot would still be needed beyond this linguistic transformation of the language in terms of its teaching infrastructure. However, the challenge is not as improbable as springing about 625 languages on the nation and hapless kids as Minister Adamu Adamu proposes.
Our proposal would stop in its track the tribal upheaval currently smoldering underneath the nation over the new NPE language policy as ethnic jingoists sight and relish this needless offer of another site of existential contestation by Minister Adamu Adamu and his advisers cum policy formulators at the Ministry of Education.
We warn, though, that adopting this new language should not lead to the banishment of the Nigerian languages currently taught in the nation’s education system from the latter.
If this new language is adopted as herein proposed Nigeria would evolve an indigenous, national language that would be accessible to most of its population over the next 100 years, at the maximum, and can therefore do away with English as a vestige of the colonial encounter for good in its official business, etc, even as English would continue to be studied in the country since it is the global language of commerce, diplomacy, etc.
Minister Adamu Adamu can do better.
We therefore enjoin him and his advisers to take a second look at the NPE in the light of this new insight into how to indigenise the language of instruction in the Nigerian education system, and not set the country on fire afresh with their unworkable new NPE.