With the historic victory of Kreol being introduced, for the first time, in primary schools next year, as a subject, the Playgroup Federation on Thursday 9 December launched six timely booklets written by four authors, Devi Chinapiel, Pushpa Lallah, Paul Virassamy and Lindsey Collen. These are the first proper “readers” ever used in Mauritius in any language.
Readers have not been able to be used at all until now because of the persistent repression of the mother tongues, Kreol and Bhojpuri, and the concommitant confusion between second language teaching and literacy teaching, which completely fudged the acquisition of literacy. This has been responsible for the very high levels of illiteracy in Mauritius, levels believed to be about 35% (by the UNESCO definition).
Vimala Luchmee presided the launch ably, situating the event in terms of the new political situation for Kreol and of human rights day. Veda Munian spoke on how the Federation of Preschool Playgroups had developed the use of the stories that make up these readers, over time. They are all, except one, tried and tested. Present for the launch were Nita Raghoonunden, Bruno Jean Francois, Nicolas Nattoo, all from the MIE’s new Younit. Vinesh Hookoomsingh who is President of the Akademi Kreol Morisyen was also present, as was the former Chief Justice, Rajsoomer Lallah.
Lindsey Collen, after putting the moment in historical perspective, spoke briefly on ‘What is a reader?’ (see an article she has written on the same subject on this site, in the news section).
Pascal Nadal, MIE lecturer, gave a brilliant launch speech. In it, he outlined the five salient points about the six booklets, putting emphasis on the cultural specificity of the booklets, how rooted they are in Mauritian cultural reality, what with words like “gounou-gounou” and “ravann”, and with the beautiful “welcoming song” which is one of the booklets. (see article on web site, based on his speech outline.)
Marlene Joseph and Pushpa Lallah gave moving renderings, tone-perfect, of the song-versions of two of the readers.
The Booklets are on sale at Rs20 each or Rs100 for a set of six. The titles are Bolom Dolok, Trwa Ti Bengali, Kouma ou apele?, Kamion, Enn Gro Bef, and Tapaz. This is the first time any of them has been published as a reader. Five of the six have been published in previous anthologies of nursery rhymes and ditties.