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LALIT calls for policy change on Language Medium in Schools

08.07.2009

LALIT has noted that Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam in his interview in Hebdo last week-end said that, though he used to be against the use of Mauritian Kreol as medium in schools, he had been convinced by someone a few years ago and is now in favour of its introduction. Despite mounting evidence in favour of the use of mother tongue as written medium in schools over the past 30 years, this is the very first time any Prime Minister has ever publicly announced such a stand.

What is now necessary is for the Prime Minister to convince his own Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Mr. Vasant Bunwaree, who recently called Mauritian Kreol a "patois". It must be said that, according to the Press, he retracted his words when there was an outcry.

Meanwhile, there is some generalized confusion about what the "medium" of education is. Some people are giving the word "medium" the restrictive, and incorrect meaning of an oral explanation that is "resorted to" when children "fail to understand" English or French. What mother-tongue medium means is that all the books and notes and discussions and questions-and-answer sessions are in the mother tongue. The very idea that teachers without any training in interpretation or in translation could be burdened with instant translation into Kreol of precise and/or complicated theoretical concepts that have had years of work in their drafting for text-books in English, is completely idiotic.

Children do much better in additional languages when their language capacity in their own language has been, and is still being, developed to a high level.