Babel of Niger State
This paper is a preliminary report on an ongoing research being carried out in the Faculty of Languages and Communication Studies of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State, Nigeria. The research is on ‘Language education and translation in Niger State’. The languages involved in the research are: Arabic, English, French, Gbagyi, Hausa and Nupe. The aim of this research which is funded by the Nigerian Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) is ‘to help improve the outcome of language education and translation in Niger State in both quality and quantity’ As a preliminary inquiry, the research team visited 78 institutions of learning at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) in all the three geopolitical zones of Niger State, as well as media houses located in the capital, Minna, and obtained responses to the questionnaires they took to the institutions. While pursuing the aim and objectives of their main research, the team deemed it necessary to consider the position (and the plight) of the multiplicity of other languages of Niger State (than the three major ones – Gbagyi, Hausa and Nupe) in relation to Nigeria’s language policy in education. The team found that there are conflicting reports on these languages with regard to their exact number, their location, their status, and even their spelling. The team learned that there are at least 38 languages in Niger State, some of which have several dialects as well. This side-line research concluded, therefore, that it would be a tall order to insist on implementing certain aspects of the national language policy in education in respect of the users of these languages, some of whom do not even speak Hausa, the most widely spread of the three major indigenous languages in the State. This research recommended, therefore, that the Niger State Government should consider establishing a language policy, and drawing up a specific plan, that will enable it to implement relevant aspects of the national language policy in education.
Key Words: Languages, Niger State, Language policy, Education
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