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Daily Nation : February 21st 2014
DAILY NATION Friday February 21, 2014 Advertising Feature 25 INTERNATIONAL Mothеr Languagе Day THEME: Local Languagеs for Global Citizеnship: Spotlight on Sciеncе VENUE: Kеnyatta Univеrsity, Mother languages key in sustaining diversity Message from the Cabinet Secretary Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi Cabinet Secretary-Ministry of Education, Science &Technology Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62). UN Member States, including Kenya were called upon on 16th May, 2009, through the United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/266, “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. I Use of mother tongue promotes culture and fosters national unity Message from the Principal Secretary State Department of Education, MOEST The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is proud to join celebrating the International Mother Language Day. The theme of Kenya’s celebrations, to be held at Kenyatta University, is “Local Languages for Global Citizenship: Spotlight on Science”. This theme weaves together current global educational thrusts with local dynamics, as we seek to foster National Unity and enhance early childhood pedagogy in the Kenya. It has been said that diversity is the mother of innovation and that is what we seek to stimulate in the country. The Ministry has been in the limelight in the recent past for its stand on mother tongue as a mode of instruction for earlier classes. This policy is captured in the Sessional Paper 14 of 2012, which recognizes Kenya’s diversity in culture and ethnic heritage best demonstrated by her wealth of over 42 indigenous ethnic groups. It is through education and training that integration of Kenya’s ethnic groups can be enriched. Education has to continue to encourage non-formal curricula activities such as music, dance, games, and debating among our schools across counties. This has greatly worked towards our national unity as it gives us a chance to appreciate each others’ customs, as has been demonstrated time and again by the annual music festivals. In this way, schools will be transformed into channels of cultural integration. The Department of Education shall ensure that local cultural traditions and the celebration thereof, form part of the life of every school. This is consistent with one of the national objectives of education which is promote the rich and varied cultures of the people of Kenya. It is also for this reason that the Ministry will soon require that National and County Education Boards encourage the use of the two official languages Kiswahili and English both in- and out-of-school as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya (2010) and that the language of the catchment area (Mother Tongue) shall be used for child care, preprimary education and in the education of Lower Primary. We will also require that Sign Language, Braille or other appropriate means of communication shall also be used in the delivery of education to learners with special needs. It is important that whenever possible learners will not be confined in their local areas for the purpose of national integration. For schools located in metropolitan areas such, Kiswahili shall be adopted as a language of the catchment area. All this is in an effort to ensure that inasmuch as we aim for Global citizenship, we enhance our national unity by promoting our local languages (unity in diversity). I urge all to celebrate these worthwhile efforts by the International community. Marcus Garvey, the renowned cultural activist, noted that “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”Let us ensure that our tree is well rooted, able to withstand the strong tides of our times and will bear the fruits of academic excellence and national unity. DR. Belio Kipsang Principal Secretary -MOEST nternational Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. The United Nations’ (UN) International Mother Language Day annually celebrates language diversity and variety worldwide on February 21. On International Mother Language Day the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN agencies participate in events that promote linguistic and cultural diversity. They also encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations may use the day to announce policies to encourage language learning and support. Kenya is a multilingual and multicultural nation, with a total of over 42 different indigenous mother languages. The Ministry of Education recognizes the role of mother languages in learning and strives to strategically operationalize mother tongue as part of the learning process. Mother languages promote learning and transmission of some skills such as traditional and cultural skills which are handy in formation of an individual besides imparting life skills. The Ministry of Education wishes to congratulate the Bible Translation and Literacy and Kenyatta University for organizing this year’s celebration hosted at Kenyatta University under the theme: “Local Languages for Global Citizenship: Spotlight on Science”. We are proud of Kenya’s multilingual and multi-diversity, as diversity is our strength and pride. Message from the Director General of UNESCO For 14 years now, UNESCO and its partners have celebrated International Mother Language Day. We have organized activities, conferences, concerts and seminars around the world to highlight the importance of linguistic diversity and multilingualism. The protection and promotion of mother languages are keys to global citizenship and authentic mutual understanding. Understanding and speaking more than one language leads to a greater understanding of the wealth of cultural interactions in our world. Recognizing local languages enables more people to make their voices heard and take an active part in their collective fate. That is why UNESCO makes every effort to promote the harmonious coexistence of the 7,000 languages spoken by humanity. This year, we place special emphasis on “Local languages for global citizenship: spotlight on science”, showing how languages ensure access to knowledge, its transmission and its plurality. Contrary to popular wisdom, local languages are perfectly capable of transmitting the most modern scientific knowledge in mathematics, physics, technology and so on. Recognizing these languages also means opening the door to a great deal of often overlooked traditional scientific knowledge to enrich our overall knowledge base. Local languages constitute the majority of languages spoken across our world in the field of science. They are also the most endangered. Excluding languages means excluding those who speak them from their fundamental human right to scientific knowledge. Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, And yet, the rapprochement of peoples in the “global village” makes working towards intercultural understanding and dialogue ever more vital. In today’s world, the norm is to use at least three languages, including one local language, one language of wider communication and one international language to communicate at both the local and global levels. This linguistic and cultural diversity may be our best chance for the future: for creativity, innovation and inclusion. We must not squander it. International Mother Language Day has contributed for more than a decade to highlighting the many roles played by languages in shaping minds, in the broadest sense, and building a global citizenship where we all have the means of contributing to the lives and challenges of societies. I call upon all the Member States of UNESCO, the International Organisation of La Francophonie – which is associated with the Day in 2014 – those active in civil society, educators, cultural associations and the media to make the most of this promise of linguistic diversity for peace and sustainable development. Language diversity builds peace and inclusiveness Message from the Secretary General/CEO Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) The world international mother language day is celebrated on every 21st day of February since 2000. The day is a commemoration of Bangladesh students who were shot dead during demonstrations for recognition of their indigenous languages Most countries in the world have embraced the use of local languages as a way of inspiring solidarity and prevention of extinction of the 7,000 languages used by humanity in the world. Kenya boasts of over 42 indigenous languages and has continuously championed the use of the local languages through community radio platforms and in some cases supported by UNESCO as a way of creating awareness on linguistic and cultural diversity. Radio broadcasting is one of the most effective ways of communicating with remote regions and also ensures that the local languages remain active. Communication in local languages is a means through which the 40 million inhabitants of this nation understand, tolerate and appreciate multicultural face of the nation. It should be noted that Kenya’s education system through language policy recognizes the importance of mother tongue. At lower primary, language of the catchment area is used as a medium of instruction in schools. Mother tongue is the foundation of cognitive development critical for effective learning including sciences as it gives one a sense of self identity and self confidence. Dr. Evangeline Njoka Secretary-General, KNATCOM It is against this background that no language should be allowed to die since linguistic diversity is vehicle for fostering peace and building more inclusive societies for sustainable development and global citizenship. Equal attention should be given to all languages in Kenya with a focus on developing content in the local languages for cyber Space to serve a wider circulation and preservation of the same. I urge all to embrace our local languages, particularly for the transmission of vital knowledge as a means of fostering sustainable development and global citizenship.
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