By Emmanuel Ugwu
The National Institute for Nigerian Languages (NINLAN), Aba, has decried its faltering efforts to produce teachers who will teach science subjects in indigenous Nigerian languages.
Basically, the project, which has been ongoing for several years is being hampered by unavailability of funds in spite of its inherent benefits to the country’s quest for technological advancement.
As a way out of the funding problem, which has generally affected the realisation of the overall mandate of the institute, the Executive Director, Prof Obiajulu Emejulu has appealed for the inclusion of NINLAN among the tertiary institutions accessing funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
He made the appeal when he received in audience, members of the Education Thematic Committee of TETFund, led by its Chairman, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Emejulu explained to the Ogunyemi committee that the role and mandate of the institute are crucial to the realisation of the academic, technological and economic dreams of Nigeria.
“The institute is in the process of training students who will graduate to be teachers of sciences using their mother tongue,” he said, adding that the innovation would contribute significantly in advancing the educational, scientific and economic status of Nigeria.
He therefore urged Ogunyemi and his team to see the need to recommend for NINLAN to be mainstreamed in TETFund stakeholders as it would boost the institute’s contribution to national development.
According to him, by accessing TETFund grants, NINLAN would be in good stead “to vigorously and successfully pursue and conclude its various researches that would immensely advance the country’s fortunes.”
In his remarks, the Deputy Executive Director of NINLAN, Prof. Solomon Oyetade, corroborated the executive director, explaining to the TETFund team that the idea of teaching science and technology in indigenous languages is not a tall order as some think.
“It is possible to teach the sciences in indigenous languages, and that makes for easier understanding by students,” he said.
Oyetade, a linguist, further explained the benefits of teaching pupils in their mother tongue than in a learned, foreign language. He cited the Asian Tigers, whose economic revolution was as a result of their teaching science and technology in their respective mother tongues.
He noted that Nigerian experts had also proved the catalytic effect of indigenous languages on advancement in science and technology, citing “the positive result” from an experiment carried out in the 1980s at Ife, by a former Minister of Education, Prof. Babatunde Fafunwa of blessed memory.
In his response, Ogunyemi expressed positive disposition to the request made by NINLAN and advised the executive director to send the necessary formal proposal to the relevant authorities for consideration.
Prominent academics who were part of the team included a former Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Prof. Chigozie Aziagbaka; president of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, Prof. Francis Egbokhare; and Technical Director of the TETFund Committee, Dr. Andy Iheme.