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Use of mother tongue impacts children positively - Nakadama

By Cecilia Okoth, Jeff Andrew Lule

Added 6th April 2016 05:38 PM

The promotion of language is supported by Uganda's education policy on the use of thematic curriculum

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State Minister for Gender and Culture, Rukia Isanga Nakadama addressing the press Uganda Media Center. Photo by Edward Kisoma

The promotion of language is supported by Uganda's education policy on the use of thematic curriculum

The State Minister for gender and culture Rukia Isanga Nakadama has said the use of mother tongue languages in educating children in lower classes has over the years has helped bring together the inputs of the family, parent and schools in the learning outcomes of children.

Nakadama who was speaking to journalists yesterday at the Uganda Media Centre ahead of the International Mother Tongue Day (IMTD) said languages also promote literacy, numeracy and higher order cognitive skills among children.

IMTD that is observed annually on 21 February was postponed to 8 April due to the presidential and parliamentary elections that were underway at the time. The day aims at promoting awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

This year's theme is, Quality Education: The contribution of mother tongues to learning outcomes in Uganda. Its overall objective is to advocate for the use and promotion of mother tongues in delivering quality education in Uganda.

"It is said that a child learns better in the language where he or she has many words in the vocabulary," the Minister said, adding that it also provides identity to every society which is a channel to promotion of positive norms, values and beliefs.

A study by cross cultural foundation of Uganda indicates that local languages use helped children improve participation rates and retention at school.

Uganda has over 65 indigenous communities with a total of 44 languages spoken. Whereas some of these languages are developed with orthographies, others are not, hence the need for the promotion and use of mother tongues in daily life and education of children for prosperity.

The promotion of language is further supported by Uganda's education policy on the use of thematic curriculum for p1, p2, p3 and the use of local languages as a medium of instruction at that level.

They say that learning to read during the first years of primary school is a key foundation for success and life of a child, but this is driven by availability of materials and good skilled teachers.

Recently, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and RTI International handed over 1.5million books translated in 12 local languages to Government to enhance literacy levels among children in primary schools.

The languages include; Runyankore-Rukiga, Runyoro-Rutoro, Luganda, Lumasaba, Ateso, Lusoga, Leb-Lango, Leb-Acholi, Lugbara, Nga-Karamajong, Lukonzo and Lugwere.

Consilous Rwanyonga, a senior education specialist at USAID/Uganda Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity (LARA) said the books help guide teachers while teaching and also helps pupils easily translate several subjects from their mother tongue to English during lessons.

However some parents in rural areas have protested Government's move of using vernacular to teach their children, saying they already use it to interact at home.

But Margaret Nankinga who heads the Luganda, Lusoga, Lugwere vehicular cross boarder language commission said lack of information and knowledge on the usefulness of mother tongue is what remains a challenge for most parents, saying it is a starting point to a child's learning process.

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