By Peter Adeniyi
The Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Redeemer’s University, Ede in Osun State, Prof. Adebola Adebileje, has called on the Federal Government to use indegenous languages to manage numerous ethno-religious crises facing the nation.
Delivering the university’s 8th inuagural lecture titled “Advancing Multilingual Education: Pathway to Globalizing the Nigerian Linguistic Landscape,” Adebileje recommended the need for a working knowledge of indigenous languages, which according to her, could be an indispensable tool for national development.
Identifying mismanagement of the indigenous languages as the bane of the nation’s development, she lamented that Nigerian language diversity that is meant “to be our strength is now becoming our major weakness as a nation.”
She said though Standard Nigerian English variety is the yardstick for English-speaking countries in West Africa, only a few Nigerians speak the English Language intelligibly, adding that the country still has multitudes, who cannot communicate in their mother tongues.
According to her, it implies that as a nation, “we are neither here nor there in developing our indigenous languages that God has given us in abundance.”
She, therefore, tasked governments at all levels to begin a gradual process of ensuring excellence in the official applications of all the indegenous languages.
The Professor of English Language Education and Applied Linguistics at the university said: “The decline in the ability of young people between the age of 15 and 25 years to speak fluently one or more indigenous languages has serious repercussions for sustainable national development.
“So, as a nation, we should overhaul the current national policy on education to promote multilingual education at all levels and consider with all seriousness, training of language teachers across the multilingual landscape for educational purposes.
“The government must also encourage parents and teachers to allow the use and application of many indigenous languages at home and in the classroom at all levels.”