BY Alfred Agudiebube, Aba

Executive Director, National Institute for Nigerian Languages (NINLAN), Prof. Obiajulu Emejulu, has said that the only way for Nigeria to experience technological revolution is to integrate the teachings of technology related courses in the native languages peculiar to the people.

Emejulu said that learning of native Nigerian languages supposed will become vehicle mass literacy development when taken seriously, stressing that no country had ever developed under the whims of foreign or imported language.

The Executive Director said that NINLAN which was established to serve as centre for producing the appropriate manpower for the teaching of Nigerian Languages, has the capacity to change the wrong narratives and uplift native languages in the country from mere mother tongues to academic languages.

He disclosed that the institute has secured the approval of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), to commence National Certificate in Education (NCE), programmes in some following: Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Kanuri, Efik, Tiv, Fulfulde, English Language, General Education, Business Education, French, Mathematics, Biology, Computer Science, Agricultural Science, Social Studies, Primary Education and Early Childhood Care and Education, in the 2019/2020 academic year.

He also said efforts are now on the conclusion stage to secure similar approval from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to offer Diplomat programme in some technological courses.

Emejulu added that NINLAN is also finalizing affiliation agreements with some renowned Nigerian universities for degree programme in some Nigerian languages, following the delay by the National Universities Commission (NUC), to allow it to exercise her mandate of becoming a full fletched degree awarding institution in Nigerian languages according to the Act establishing it

In his words, “One of the reasons we are eager to keep our mandate as given by our Act for running NCE, Diploma and Degree Programmes is that it gives us the latitude to actually make Nigeria a literate country through mass literacy and to develop its own technology and have its own technological revolution, just like the Asian Tigers that have developed their technologies and their economies by using their languages. 

“No country has Industrialized on the whims of foreign or imported language. Japan had to go back to its own language to Industrialize. Nigeria needs to go back to its languages to get its people activate their God given talents and creative energy to begin to develop. 

“With our National Diploma programmes, we’re going to have technological programmes combined with various Nigerian Languages so that we will have experts in these areas who are also fluent speakers of their Languages who are able to tap into the resources and gem concepts in their different languages. 

“We have what it takes to use our languages to make a breakthrough. We don’t have to wait until everything is complete in our languages. The Asians didn’t wait. The English language you have today is the greatest borrower of all languages in the world. It’s the greatest inheritor of terms from other languages. 

“They are not ashamed to do it. They take what you have that they like and add to their own and they move on. We included some of those courses like Biology, mathematics and others as part of our  courses because there’s no way we can develop homegrown technology without knowing those science courses. 

“By mastering those subjects and your language, you can now begin to marry the two and develop scientific concepts in your mother tongue. When you do that, you multiply your ability to be productive scientifically because you’re now thinking with your real native language and native intelligence. 

“Currently, our native intelligence is separated from our language of use, our language of thought and our language of research. So, you’re not achieving at an optimum level. We need these things and we at NINLAN are saying we are ready for that. 

“We want to produce a core of NCE, Diploma and Degree holders that are not just like the others, but are able to make our languages productive instruments for research, science and technology.”

He also pointed out that NINLAN is in serious need for fund to enable it meet its mandates,  as all efforts put in place to include it among TETFUND beneficiaries, has failed following the refusal by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Emejulu solicited for the support Federal lawmakers from South East, especially  those from Abia as well as all well meaning Nigerians and organisations that have interest for the survival of Nigerian languages and homemade technology to support NINLAN to make it happen.



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