Nigerian experts discuss use of language for sustainable development

OAU Vice Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede
OAU Vice Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede

International Association of Language Educators, Obafemi Awolowo University Language scholars and educationists under the aegis of International Association of Language Educators, on Monday, deliberated on the contributions of language to the development of all Nigerian sectors.

The group held its annual conference workshop in Obafemi Awolowo university Ile-Ife with dignitaries from different institutions in attendance.

The conference was tagged “language and literature education for sustainable development”.

Amongst those present include the former Chairman of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) board, Pai Obanya; the Vice Chancellor of the host school, Eyitope Ogunbodede and a representative of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi Adeyeye.

Mr Obanya, an emeritus Professor, delivered a paper on the essence of technological advancement and the influence on the media on language.

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He said there was no way language could be used for sustainable development without harnessing technology.

He said that “it was not sufficient to condemn children of nowadays for being digital as we have to see what is good in digital and integrate it into language education.”

“The capacity is there, what matters is the ability for the teachers to deploy for today’s improved teaching and learning and the central message is that you may have software and hardware but the $humanware’, is very important and the teachers are the humanware.”

The former WAEC boss said digitalisation “could help add value to a language and also devalue it depending on the user’s understanding of what to do and not”.

Indigenous languages

Meanwhile, Mr Ogunbodede, while giving his address, called for the need to incorporate indigenous languages and broaden the school curriculum.

In an interview with journalists, the don decried the decadence of African languages as he said “they have been subdued by the frequent use of English language”.

“… Even the English language is not well grounded in terms of writing. Now we find out our youths can read but not write well. We need to do more. We need to ensure that we regain our indigenous languages.

“Hardly will you be able to find a youth that can speak fluent Yoruba language without mixing it with the English language. Even those who can speak the Yoruba language can not speak their own dialect.

“If we want to sustain our culture and integrity as a nation, we need to pay special attention to language. This conference is geared towards sustaining our languages. Not only English but also African languages,” he noted.

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Adebisi Alayade, a monarch, who represented the Ooni of Ife, stated the importance of language especially for historical documentation, identification and communication.

“Language is very important. From the day we were born, our naming… We have to understand the language of every sector before we can address the problems in those sectors. Once we understand the language, there will be peace.”

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