Mr Nwankwo Ndukwu, Publicity Secretary, Rivers chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), has urged the Federal Government to recruit indigenous language teachers to fill vacancies in Unity Secondary Schools.
Ndukwu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Port Harcourt that many indigenous language teachers in the unity secondary schools had retired, while the few still in the schools were overworked and also on the way out.
“Since the few teachers currently in the school system are fast approaching their retirement age, government should engage more hands, if we are to sustain the teaching of the subjects,” he said.
He, however, said that recruiting the teachers could pose a serious challenge because most tertiary institutions in Nigeria no longer offer academic courses in indigenous languages.
“This is partly caused by the lack of interest to study indigenous language. Nobody wants to study indigenous language in the university; so the few ones left are gradually phasing out.
“Similarly, most tertiary institutions do not offer indigenous language as courses. Only Alvan Ikokwu College of Education in Imo State has a Department of Igbo Language in the Eastern region.
“In Rivers State, for instance, there are no such courses offered in tertiary institution. This affects the indigenous language policy.
“The policy made the three major languages – Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo – compulsory for students of unity secondary schools across the country.
“Hausa language is widely taught in schools in the North; Yoruba in the West and Igbo in the East.
“A major concern is that some students find it difficult to cope with those subjects; many others just do not like them partly because they were not thought indigenous language in primary schools.
“However, a remarkable progress has been achieved with the indigenous language policy.
“For example, my daughter, who could barely speak Igbo language in the past, now speaks it fluently. She reads Igbo Bible and interprets it.
“The policy has equally helped students to understand their cultures and norms with renewed sense of identity.
“If Igbo language, rather than English language, is used to teach mathematics to students in the Eastern states, I can assure you that the students will excel in the subject,” he said.
Ndukwu regretted that most students, who reside in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other urban centres, could hardly recite proverbs in their native languages.
“These proverbs are an important method used to pass knowledge for easy understanding of local traditions. We should do everything to ensure that they do not disappear” he said