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Historic Shift in Favour of Mother Tongues including Mauritian Kreol


Monday 30 August saw the Minister of Education presiding a National Forum on the implementation of the policy of introducing Mauritian Kreol as an optional subject in schools. This historic event took place at the unlikely venue of the Canelle Restaurant at Domain les Pailles, as part of the Government's tendency to rent private sector venues.

There were some hundred or so people present, including all those who had submitted their memoranda to the Minister following his public call for position papers. Almost everyone present spoke Mauritian Kreol, and the debate was very thoughtful and thought-provoking, despite many important differences of opinion.

Any residual opposition to the Kreol language itself was ruled out of order by the Minister. He said the Government had taken a policy decision based on its electoral platform and that the Government had been voted in order to put this part of their Program into action. This is the first time a Government has stood by any promise to introduce the Kreol language at any level. The Minister also said that the Government is committed to introducing Bhojpuri, but ruled out of order debate on this issue, because at hand was the question of Kreol.

Debate was very lively and sophisticated. All the linguists who have fought for the Kreol languages took part, from Dev Virahsawmy, Vinesh Hookoomsing and Rada Tirvassen, to the younger generation of Arnaud Carpooran, Nita Ragoonunden, and Fabiola Favori were present.

All the currents that have fought for the mother tongues as medium in schools, like Ledikasyon pu Travayer, Federation of Pre-School Playgroups, and LALIT, were present, as well as those who have fought for either the Mauritian Kreol language or Mauritian Bhojpuri.
Representing LALIT, Lindsey Collen said that the Party agrees with Grafi Larmoni, agrees that the language be called either Mauritian Kreol or Mauritian, depending on the context, and agrees that some kind of Language Institute will be necessary in order to "amenaz" the language, its terminology, etc. and give its written forms coherence. She also drew attention to the need to swiftly move from the introduction of Mauritian Kreol as an optional subject, to the essential issue of the mother tongues as medium. "The mother tongues", she said, "being more than just a means of communicating with people and being, in fact, our means of understanding the world, need to be used for teaching content subjects and reading and writing, and this to a high level." She called on people to rely for comparisons on the countries with the best practices, like Sweden and Holland, which are smallish countries with languages not spoken outside the borders of their countries, and which have excellent education, including the highest level of foreign language proficiency. They, of course, use the mother tongue throughout their education systems.