FG Moves to Strengthen NINLAN for Effective Mother Tongue Policy Implementation

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

The federal government has said that the National Institute for Nigerian Languages (NINLAN), Aba, would play a strategic role in the implementation of the new policy on mother tongue as medium of instruction at the basic level of education.

Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, identified NINLAN’s strategic role in his address at the maiden and combined convocation of the 29-year-old institute, saying that the federal government was determined to develop Nigerian languages and revive the dying ones.

“The language policy provides a real opportunity for the National Institute for Nigerian Languages to assert its relevance. It must focus attention on the production of resources and building capacity needed for the realisation of the lofty goals of the Language Policy.

“I will be delighted to receive actionable plans for fast tracking the sustainable implementation of the policy. Government is ready to provide the requisite support to NINLAN in this respect,” the minister said.

The mother tongue policy was announced by Adamu after the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja last week. He stated that its full implementation would commence with the development of instructional materials and availability of qualified teachers. 

But Adamu, who was represented by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Charles Igwe, urged the NINLAN to expand the number of indigenous languages offered in its National Certificate in Education (NCE) programmes.

He added that the institute should “dig deeper in its reservoir of knowledge” to assist in achieving a seamless implementation of the new mother tongue policy.

The minister pledged that NINLAN would be strengthened to play the “very important role” required of it and charged the 5th Governing Council of the Institute to work hard and ensure that NINLAN lived up to expectation in actualising its mandate.

According to the Education Minister, with the new policy on mother tongue as medium of instruction, “Nigerians, for the first time will enjoy their diversity while taking pride in their languages”.

While congratulating the management or NINLAN on the “landmark event” of holding its maiden convocation, Adamu urged them to strive to sustain and build on their achievements.

In his address, the Chairman of Council, Prof. Francis Egbokhare, lamented that NINLAN has over the years battled with the challenge of visibility due to the neglect of the Institute and what it stands for.

“If an institution lacks visibility, even after 29 years, there is a real challenge of relevance. NINLAN must now identify its strategic axes of freedom and differentiate itself as a unique brand,” he said.

The renowned linguist and former President of the Academy of Letters also noted that “NINLAN has not properly aligned with the National Universities Commission (NUC) over the years until recently hence it existed for a long-time functioning like a parastatal of the FME.

“The implication of this has been that it has lacked the respect and recognition it deserves and has failed to integrate properly with institutions in the NUC. Gladly, this is changing,” Egbokhare said.

The Executive Director of NINLAN, Prof. Obiajulu Emejulu said that the institute was already shaking off some of the drawbacks that held it down since inception, adding that “we have worked hard” to record remarkable achievements.

He said that NINLAN through collaborations, affiliations and partnerships was determined to expand the development of more and more of Nigeria’s estimated 620 languages.

Emejulu, who is the fourth ED of NINLAN, assured government and all stakeholders that the institute would play its role in making available the needed manpower for the full implementation of the Nigerian Language Policy.

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