The Education and Science Minister, Ms Leela Devi Dookun, has kept silent on the Mauritian Kreol language as medium. Two former Education Ministers, Messrs Kadress Pillay and Vasant Bunwaree, had begun to take a reasonable position by the end of their mandates, Lalit has observed. But nothing has changed since Colonial Times, in terms of the formal medium in schools. It is widely known that all teachers use Mauritian Kreol a lot “orally” in schools, thus getting around the thorny problem of children not understanding. With the lockdowns and schooling being done remotely, this suppleness of using the mother tongue that had developed to make the strict colonial rules slightly less draconian, has not been replicated. Even in these circumastances, the present Minister has made no move towards this eminently logical demand for the mother tongue, Mauritian Kreol to be used as medium for at the very least Maths and Science. Thus the initiative that Ledikasyon pu Travayer took on Monday 9 August, along with 19 well-known intellectuals with experience of different kinds in language and/or education to sign a “Common Declaration”. The individuals are:
Alain Ah Vee
The Declaration has the expressed support of the following academics abroad,
Professor Beban Sammy Chumbow
Dr. Robert Phillipson
Dr. Tonjes Veenstra.
Declaration on Mauritian Kreol as Written Medium for Science in Schools
Given the importance of our natural mother-tongues to the cognitive development of all human beings, especially as we grow up as children,
Given the harm done to all children by rote learning,
We, the undersigned, hereby add our voices to the call for the State to introduce the teaching of mathematics and science in the mother tongue Mauritian Kreol, or alternatively, as dual medium alongside English, including for textbooks and examinations.
This short declaration was accompanied by a letter to the Minister, signed by LPT. Here is what it said:
Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Hon. Leela Devi Dookun.
Dear Ms. Leela Devi Dookun,
We address our “Common Declaration on Mauritian Kreol as Written Medium for Science in Schools” to you, as Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, because the Declaration falls direct within your purview, being about education, on the one hand, and about science, on the other – both subjects so directly part of your Ministry that they are part of its very name. The change we propose would involve amending Regulation 43 under the Education Act (1957), which falls directly under your responsibility.
However, we realize that the change we petition for would involve a major policy decision, that the Cabinet will no doubt need to discuss. As such, we therefore take this opportunity to send copies also to the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister Obeegadoo and other Vice Prime Minister Husnoo, as well as recognizing that you are also a Vice Prime Minister.
As you are aware, there are now guidelines from the Ombudsperson for Children on this subject. In her Annual Report of 2017-18, see her recommendations on page 352-3. They are in the same general direction as our more specific request for the teaching of science subjects through the mother tongue.
Yours sincerley, on behalf of those who have signed, below,
Alain Ah Vee, LPT President
Ledikasyon pu Travayer, twice awarded UNESCO Prizes (Literacy – 2004 and Linguapax for mother tongue promotion 2013)
208 5551, or 5 932 9002
A copy of the declaration below will be sent to the Press, as the public may be interested.