Indigenous language implementation and nation building: the Nigerian experience
This paper dwells on the use of indigenous languages in the Nigerian education sector. The Nigerian Government at various times has proposed various forms of language policies to encourage and stimulate the growth and development of her over 400 indigenous languages, in order to free its citizens from the yoke of an imperial language, i.e., English. The National Policy on Education did well to cover education levels ranging from the early childhood/pre-primary, to the primary and up to the secondary school levels. It even emphasized the use of mother tongue at the kindergarten and nursery school levels, yet our educators at the kindergarten and nursery school merely pay lip-service to it. Despite the fact that the language policy on education emphasized the use of mother tongue at these levels as a medium of instruction, the English language continues to dominate our indigenous languages because it has been adopted at the kindergarten and nursery school levels. The paper therefore submits that, as a way to protect Nigeria’s indigenous languages, there is need for proper implementation of the indigenous language policy in the kindergarten and nursery schools, not just being hypocritical about it. Consequently, a standard curriculum should be developed as well as utilized for this level and must be properly supervised by government agencies to ensure compliance and quality control. The paper concludes that implementing the policy on indigenous language teaching and use in the early child education stages can enhance nation building.
Key words: Indigenous languages, policy implementation, nation building, kindergarten, Nigeria.