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Universities challenged to help preserve indigenous languages

 Institutions of higher learning have been challenged to take up the role and preserve the dying indigenous languages using modern technology.

University of Embu Vice Chancellor Prof Daniel Mugendi flags off a procession in celebration of International Mother Language Day. Photo/BRIAN MUSYOKA

Chief Executive Officer, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) Dr. Everlyn Njoka said that the indigenous languages were on verge of getting lost and there was need for quick action to protect the languages.

Ms.Njoka observed that the eminent danger facing the local languages could soon put the technology in jeopardy as new technologies depend on the mother tongue languages for excellence.

"There is need to harness the technology and safe the indigenous language. I challenge our universities to come up with mechanisms of preserving indigenous languages technologically so that young people and future generations can learn them through ICT platforms,” Ms. Njoka said.

Speaking at the University of Embu during this year's International Mother Language Day celebrations, Ms Njoka stated that Universities should not be in comfort when the languages were at risk but instead rise and protect them.

“Just as we have application programs for a wide range of fields, we can also have content on our various mother tongues packaged in similar format and I believe our universities have the capacity to do so.” said Ms. Njoka.

Role of parents

The CEO also noted that parents had a big role to play in teaching their children local languages in their respective areas so that they can grow fluent on it and protect the country's cultural heritage.

“We cannot learn our cultures which connect us to our past without learning our indigenous languages,” the CEO said.

She said cognitive and intellectual growth of children was faster when one has a good command of their mother tongue which in essence results in success in education.

University of Embu Vice Chancellor Prof. Daniel Mugendi said that the University of Embu will take up the issue and come up with mechanisms to help grow the mother tongue languages.

“We will look into ways of deliberately incorporating mother tongue in our curriculum as well as gather and preserve indigenous languages and knowledge for future generations,” the VC said.


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