Nigeria might be a country facing many challenges, but the latest announcement by the Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu that the country will soon use indigenous languages to teach Maths and Science might be a stepping stone towards development if implemented.
During the inauguration of the inter-ministerial committee on the teaching of Mathematics and Science subjects in local languages in Abuaja, the minister, said primary and secondary schools in the country will soon start teaching Mathematics and Science subjects in indigenous languages.
This announcement was welcomed and seen as a step forward in the process of preservation and elevation of indigenous. The inter-ministerial committee, which would be comprised of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Education will work towards the realisation of the project.
The magnanimity of such a project is not to be understated. Nigeria, a country of over 600 languages has English and French as its official languages. English is currently used as the medium of instruction in primary and secondary schools despite the existence of a language policy in education that recommends that indigenous languages should be used as the medium of instruction in primary schools.
The U-turn by the Nigerian government might as well be in compliance with this policy. The minister said the committee would develop the capacity of the local languages to serve as effective tools for teaching Mathematics and Science subjects. Whether the committee will also include linguists and language experts, it still remains relatively unknown.
With the minister pointing to India and China as examples of countries that use their languages as mediums of teaching in their schools, he hoped making use of indigenous languages to teach the various subjects would ignite an interest in the subjects.
But does all the talk on the issue mean anything without the increment in the budget allocation for both education and science and technology? This project is complex and ambitious, which needs extensive multi-sector support, research, government investment, training and development. The implementation of the proposal will be a huge challenge. The training of teachers specifically for this purpose is one of the challenges.