FEDERAL Government has raised fears over threat to extinction of Nigeria indigenous languages saying the trend is alarming.
Supervising Minister of Education, Barr. Nyesom Wike, raised the alarm yesterday in Abuja at the commemoration of 2014 United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), International Mother language Day, (IMLD).
Wike said there is remarkable decline in the use of Nigerian languages, especially those living in urban centres whom he said hardly communicate in their mother tongues.
The theme for this year’s celebration was “Local Languages for Global Citizenship: spotlight on science”.
According to him, “You will all agree with me that our indigenous languages are facing the threat of becoming extinct due to remarkable decline in usage. Our youths, especially those living in the urban centres hardly communicate in their mother tongues. Worse still is the sharp drop in the number of those that could read or write in those languages as a result of over dependence in the use of social media against the traditional letter writing.
“I believe if we want to give our children the best possible chance to know our history, values and tradition as parents, we must ensure that every Nigerian child can read and write in his or her own language.
“This is not just another educational debate where answer lies somewhere. It is a responsibility that begins at home. It is one that we need to take on before our kids step their feet into the classrooms and then carry through their teenage years”.
Wike who was represented at the event by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr MacJohn Nwaobiala stressed the commitment of the ministry in expanding access to quality education and reversing the negative trend of declining usage of indigenous language through advocacy and sensitization campaigns.
He said the use of indigenous language can be used to settle conflicts and promotes peaceful coexistence among various ethnic groups .
The Minister said it is therefore imperative for the nation to fast track the process of developing the nation’s indigenous languages and urged all Nigerian students to be proud of the cultural heritage and be prepared to defend it at any fora.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. MacJohn Nwaobiala, in his welcome address at the occasion said learning the indigenous language by Nigerian youths would enhanced the ability of children to grasp the details of the technological advancement being experienced worldwide.
“This would place Nigeria on the same page with countries that have effectively used their indigenous languages to promote technology”.