The Member of Parliament for Korle Klottey, Dr Zanetor Rawlings says it is high time Ghanaian universities considered including a local language as part of its core courses.
According to her, making a local language part of the minor courses in the university will encourage and get more people interested in learning more about their local language.
“We are a multilingual country, which means naturally we are good at languages and it is an advantage to us as a people but somehow there is a block when it comes to English [in comparison with our local language].
“Maybe the method used in teaching the local languages to children is what is creating the block. Perhaps it is the time we go back to the policy which places emphasis on speaking the mother tongue to children as they go through school,” the medical doctor said.
Speaking at the launch of the 11th edition of the Spelling Bee competition at the Osu Presby Hall Tuesday, Dr Rawlings expressed worry that with lots of the so-called eye openness, society is losing its language and cultural identity.
Dr Rawlings, who was speaking on the theme of ‘Why we lose it?’ as part of a broad theme for the launch ‘The relevance of the mother tongue in literacy noted lots of dilution when it comes to mentioning local names and places which in turn affects the language negatively.
“If you don’t appreciate the value of language, you can’t express yourself properly and as we move along, what we end up with is someone who speaks only English, which is not even the proper English language.
“In essence, the person ends up with nothing in the end. We need to hold on to our languages and the key is to speak them wherever we are,” she stressed.
The first time MP is also advocating the need for local language dictionaries to enable the upcoming generation to appreciate and know their mother tongues well.
Dr Rawlings reminisced her time at Wesley Girls High School speaking fondly of her Fante teacher, Mr Otabil, and Biology teacher, Mr Xexemeku.
Dr Rawlings with brainchild of Spelling Bee Ghana, Eugenia Techie-Menson
“I recently contacted Mr. Xexemeku and realized he has changed the spelling of his name to Hehemeku,” she said adding it made her sad because she believes, “language is important because they convey the spirit of a thing.”
“My name, for instance, is Zànetor which means the ‘darkness must seize’ which is a command. When my name is mispronounced, it changes the meaning of the name because the Ewe language like may other Ghanaian languages is tonal as well,” she said.
According to her, she used her high school days to interact with many other girls from different ethnic groups as an opportunity to learn bits of other different languages.
She charged young ladies to take their roles as educators seriously especially when they become mothers because the onus lies on them to teach children their first language.