The Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Moses Ekpo, has decried the decline in the use of vernacular, particularly by the younger generation, and called for the inclusion of vernacular in schools curriculum to forestall its extinct.
This was contained in a statement on Thursday issued by the press secretary to the deputy governor, Mr. Ekikere Umoh.
According to the statement, the deputy governor made the call while receiving a delegation from the National Institute for Nigerian Languages, Abia State, led by the Executive Director of the National Institute for Nigerian Languages, Prof Obiajulu Emejulu.
The delegation was in the state to present published texts for the teaching of Annang language at the level of Universal Basic Education in the state.
According to the statement government, it is ready to improve and contribute to the development of the various language units in the state in order to ensure the preservation of the cultural values of the people.
While commending the National Institute for Nigerian Languages for taking up the challenge, Ekpo eulogised the efforts of the former Director of the institute, late Dr. Mrs Amechie and the leadership of the Ati Annang and Afe Annang for the collaborative efforts and support right from the inception of the idea.
He acknowledged the contributions of the institution to the development of Annang language through the published texts which he said would go a long way to prove that other languages could be developed as well for the betterment of the educational system across the state and country at large.
“Annang language is lucky to get to this stage and I pay tribute to both Ati and Afe Annang, and also the institution for driving the idea.”
The Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Idongesit Etiebet, represented by the ministry’s permanent Secretary, Lady Rose Bassey, said that the state government was aware of the published Annang texts, and had placed them under review for inclusion in the next batch of text for use in Akwa Ibom.
She expressed hope that more investment would be made by individuals and institutions to develop other languages for use in schools, adding that a lot of Akwa Ibom children were unable to speak the mother tongue, especially with the mindset of it being regarded as native and inferior.
The leader of the delegation and Executive Director of the National Institute for Nigerian Languages, Prof Obiajulu Emejulu, said that the published texts were aimed at promoting the possibility of teaching the language at the Universal Basic level.
Emejulu mentioned that the books were the result of the inspiration given to them by the Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor during his visit to the Institution to celebrate the 2017 International Mother Tongue Day, where he stressed the need to develop the language and produce materials for use in schools.
According to him, 12 published books covering primary one to junior secondary school three reference texts on rules for Annang spelling and dictionary would also help those working in different areas to explore the terminologies of the language.
The Executive Director who disclosed that research had indicated that children taught in their mother tongues do better in learning, expressed optimism that once the language policy documented were approved by the Federal Government, they would receive support to develop the 520 Nigerian Languages for use as languages of education.