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February 19, 2019

Ngugi wa Thiong′o: Stop punishing children for speaking mother tongue in school

Author Ngugi wa Thiongo addressing authors and publishers during the launch of his books translated to the Dholuo language on Wednesday.
Author Ngugi wa Thiongo addressing authors and publishers during the launch of his books translated to the Dholuo language on Wednesday.

Renowned author Ngugi wa Thiong'o has criticised teachers for punishing students who speak their mother tongue in school.

“The culture of teachers punishing their students for speaking their mother tongue must stop. In fact, we should encourage them to express themselves in their mother tongue,” he said.

The United States-based Kenyan writer was 

“Speaking and writing in foreign languages is a sign of colonial enslavement but embracing our native language is the best policy we can teach our children and the future generation so that they can know and appreciate our origin, ways of life, culture, identities as well as our entire cultural history,” the professor said.

The launch comes after the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development approved the use of learning materials in various mother tongues through listening, speaking, pre-reading and pre-writing. They include Gikuyu, Kikamba, Dholuo, Ekegusii and Kigiriama languages.

Promoting mother tongue activities carried out in different catchment areas is very crucial for the growth and development of young people. In the recent past, we were taught how to read and write in our mother tongue,” said East African Educational Publishers Chief Executive officer Kiarie Kamau.

Published by East African Educational Publishers, the local language books target pupils under the Competence Based Curriculum namely Gikuyu literacy Grade 1 and 2, Kikamba literacy Grade 1, 2 and 3, Dholuo literacy Grade 2 and Ekegusii literacy Grade 1.

Article 11 of the Constitution provides for the promotion of all forms of cultural expression through literature, the arts, traditional celebrations, science, communication, information mass media, publications, libraries, and other cultural heritage.

“Passing on the same mantle to our young generation will ensure loyalty to all our multi-ethnic communities through speaking various languages and dialects,” Kamau said.

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