The Federal Government has approved a new National Language Policy which makes the mother tongue a compulsory medium of instruction from primary 1 to 6.
Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, disclosed this on Wednesday to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, the mother tongue will be used exclusively for the first six years of education while it will be combined with the English language at the level of Junior Secondary Schools.
Adamu said even though the policy has officially taken effect, it can only be fully implemented when the government develops instructional materials and qualified teachers are engaged.
He said the mother tongue to be used in each school will be the dominant language spoken by the community where it is located.
The minister said the government is intentional about preserving cultures as well as their peculiar idiosyncrasies, lamenting that so much has been lost due to the extinction of some local languages.
While assuring all Nigerian languages are equal and will be treated as such, Adamu said, “Then, there is a memo on the National Language Policy which has been approved. So, Nigeria now has a National Language Policy. You will get the details later from the ministry. The policy document is here.
“If I have to tell you one highlight in it, the government has agreed now that instructions for the first six years in primary schools will be in the mother tongue. In principle, it has been agreed. And I know, implementing it will require a lot of work to develop materials to teach and get the teachers and so on. But the policy has been approved.
“Mother tongue is mother tongue. There are 625 languages in Nigeria. If we have the instructional materials and teachers, the community will teach the children in its language. It is not restricted to the three languages that we have promoted: Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. When the policy is fully operational, each locality will teach students in primary 1 up to 6 in their mother tongue.