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Creole in education
If a group comes up with a script for the Madame Séré language, will the government introduce it as an
option in primary schools?
The justification for the introduction of Creole as an option in primary schools is said to be because it is allegedly an ancestral language, meaning the language of slaves with its culture that the so-called descendants of slaves wish to preserve.
Firstly, Creole is not an ancestral language like Hindi or Urdu simply because Creole is not an African language while Hindi and Urdu are Indo-Iranian languages. Creole is a language local to the island. African-Mauritians who reject their African ancestry in favour of a European-based Creole ancestry do so at their own peril. Secondly, Mauritian patois (commonly referred to as Creole) differs from region to region and from community to community. It follows that Mauritians have several mother tongues. There is no evidence to show how slaves spoke or wrote. Hence, Creole long ceased to exist in freedom.
What some politicians have done is to invent a way of speaking and writing since the 1960s and, many years later, called the script ‘Grafilarmoni’ without stating harmony between which scripts, deform and butcher proper French words, respect no rules of grammar, and, through media propaganda, imposed it on the people for half a century. They call this ‘Kreol’ as in Haiti. It is clear that this is not the language of the people, but a fabricated language imposed on the people. No responsible parent would like his/her child to spell mauve ‘mov’ or rouge ‘ruz’. The Ministry of Education does not appear to have recognised reports, based on representative population samples, which tell him how Mauritians in different regions and different communities pronounce and spell, for example, the word “éducation”, and which spellings to adopt. There is no way a child who learns and forms himself in an imposed butchered French or English language can subsequently possibly be better ‘equipped’ to learn French or English properly.
At the discretion of the teacher, Mauritian patois is already informally used as a medium of instruction. The government’s decision to introduce this recently fabricated ‘Kreol’ as an option in the primary school curriculum in the near future is a political one and not based on empiricism, and does not look after the interests of the child because it is regressive and damaging to the child. British and French primary schools do not teach children in Cockney or Argot! Moreover, this ‘Kreol’ fabrication cannot be considered pari passu with languages like Hindi, Urdu, Bhojpuri or Tamil and will give an unfair advantage to the child who cannot spell properly and who knows no rules of grammar in a script not internationally recognised as an academic language. Creole has become a language for children with special need (recalés) when, in fact, the government should employ sociologists, psychologists and linguists to help those children overcome their limitations. Teaching them ‘Kreol’ is certainly not the solution. In fact, Creole is a limitation in itself and an inherent part of the problem.
If a group comes up with a script for the Madame Séré language, will the government introduce it as an option in primary schools?
M Rafic Soormally
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SSR at Cité Attlee
Sir Seewoosagur loved all, friends and adversaries. He had no enemies. Only people who have no mind can’t see that. I, as a teacher from a Sugar Estate, witnessed many years ago a wonderful scene when the Cité Attlee Government School at Curepipe was being inaugurated.
Everybody knows that most of the people at Cité Attlee had publicly displayed their allegiance towards the PMSD and would most likely have voted against the Independence Party. The Cité Attlee inhabitants, mostly women, flocked to attend the ceremony, because it was SSR who was going to inaugurate the opening of the school. We were a bit anxious as there were only a few policemen around. When SSR arrived, there was a commotion. We were really afraid, but soon this feeling soon evaporated when we came to realize that it was the womenfolk who were pressing forward in order to see from close quarters the man who had given Mauritius the status of a free nation.
On the same occasion teachers had exhibited some items of their own work, which represented some of their talents outside their teaching profession. I engage in cabinet-making in my spare time. I had exhibited a small parlour table whose surface was of red colour. SSR expressed the wish to meet the maker, and I had to own up. To my pleasant surprise and lasting satisfaction he congratulated me upon my work. That moment of pride remains one of my cherished memories to this day.
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Farewell, dear friend
The Chettiars and my parents were neighbours at Corderie Street, Port Louis. I knew Veeriah when I was a young boy and he was three years my elder. He was a bright student at La School (Royal College Port Louis). After completing his School Certificate, Cambridge, he went to South India for further studies. His parents went back to India with their daughter and their younger son Rajendra while World War II was still raging.
Veeriah came back to Mauritius and took over the management of the family business and very quickly opened another shop at Desforges Street. Veeriah was a gifted businessman with a special aptitude for finance. Dr Seewoosagur Ramgoolam spotted that talent and made him the Treasurer of the Labour Party, a position that he held for many years. I always held Veeriah in high esteem for his utter commitment to the Labour Party whatever the mood of Lady Fortune. He was a true soldier and a friend from the beginning to the end.
To his bereaved family, I have only these words to offer in their hour of deep sadness, He was a honest, trustworthy man, imbued with a sense of justice and loyalty. AUM
* Published in print edition on 24 September 2010
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