The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa on Wednesday berated the low turn out of the State public schools during the Public Hearing of a proposed law to make the teaching and speaking of Yoruba Language compulsory in the State.
The Public Hearing was organized by the House on a Bill titled, “The Promotion and Preservation of the Use of Yoruba Language in Lagos State and for Connected Purposes.”
The Bill was in continuation of the Yoruba Summit Day organised by the House in 2016 as part of measures to promote and preserve the language and its accompanied customs and traditions.
Obasa who made this remark while delivering his keynote address at the Lateef Jakande Auditorium of the House, stated that it was disheartening that many public schools in the State were lackadaisical to a programme geared towards protecting the native language from going into extinction.
“We have a lot of public schools in Lagos State but many of them are not here today. We need to look at that because it is through them (public schools), we can reach out to the children. I have observed that we don’t have many of them in this gathering,” said the Speaker.
He however explained that that might prompt the House to direct all the lawmakers to go to their respective constituencies to educate residents on the import of the law.
The Speaker further stated that it was saddening to see young children and the elderly at times having difficulty in speaking Yoruba language.
According to him, “I have the privilege to travel far and wide, but do you know what? Other people cherish their natve languages so they are developed and more sophisticated. So the question is, why is it so difficult for us to speak our language?”
Obasa however explained that the proposed law was not to intimidate anybody but “it is to encourage our children to start speaking in our mother tongue.”
While delivering his welcome address, the Chairman House Committee on Education, Olanrewaju Ogunyemi explained that “these decisions are hinged on our observation that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has set aside 21st February of every year as international Mother Language Day.
The Chairman also added, section 1(10) (a) of the National Policy on Education (NPE) states that ” Government appreciates the importance of languages as a means of promoting social interaction and national cohesion; and preserving cultures.”
Ogunyemi therefore argued that in line with these provisions it would be inappropriate for “most schools now regard the use of the native language as a vernacular.”
In his contribution, a representative of the Lagos State University (LASU), Dr. Rufus Olaoluwa observed that section 5 of the Bill which stated that “a credit in Yoruba Language shall be acceptable as part of requirements into any tertiary instition in the State” would be difficult to enforce.
He advised that instead of the provision in section 5, it should be made compulsory to study the language up to SSIII level and listed as one of the core subjects.
Also speaking, the Tutor General of Education District 5, Anike Adekanye explained that emphasis should be laid on teaching the primary schools pupils the language, adding that it would be difficult to lay emphasis on the older generation.
She advised that parents should speak the language to their wards.