The mother tongue is important for the identity of the
individual.Through the mother tongue communication is more effective
and meaningful. Through the mother tongue children can receive
effective education. National languages are factors of development and
The teaching of national languages in schools is an important factor in the fight against discrimination and facilitates access to the marginalised populations.
It is in this light that the 13th edition of the International Mother Language Day was celebrated at the Yaounde conference centre yesterday February 21. Organised by the Ministry of Basic Education, the event brought together cabinet ministers, representatives of some partner ministries, international organisations, the diplomatic corps and school children. The theme of this year was “Mother Tongue, A treasure worth preserving”. The celebration aimed at promoting the cultural and communicative values of mother tongues. The event began with the singing of the National Anthem in Bandenkok, a mother tongue from the West Region of Cameroon, by pupils of the “Ecole Privé Liac SIPOWA”. The pupils displayed talents in the use of mother tongues through poems, sketches and traditional dances.
In her message on the International Mother Language Day, the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova said mother tongues are also factors of sustainable development and a more harmonised management of relations with the environment. The different speakers at the occasion stressed on the importance and on the need to preserve the mother tongue as it plays a primordial role in national development. On her part, the Minister of Basic Education, Youssouf Hadidja Alim, called on the public to encourage their children to speak the mother tongues before foreign languages because they are an important factor in development. She added that it is through the mother tongue that the child begins to communicate with its immediate environment.
For five years, an experimental programme in multilingual education in partnership between the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and the Ministry of Basic Education has been functioning in Boyo Division in the North West Region. In this programme, 12 experimental schools use the local language, Kom, as a medium of instruction while another 12 schools continue to use English as the language of instruction. At the end of year four, standardised testing was once again completed for children in both comparison and experimental schools in classes two and four.